Moving the status quo farther behind

The Romney-Ryan campaign obviously is more than a little sensitive about being portrayed as anti-public education. But the portrayal fits. The deep education budget cuts proposed by Paul Ryan in Congress – and apparently endorsed by Romney – contrast sharply with President Obama’s record. The president signed a stimulus law in 2009 that pumped about $100 billion in education funds into the states. And, in 2010 he won another $10 billion to help save educators’ jobs.

The Romney-Ryan budget proposal, as I noted in a previous posting, would slash an estimated $723 million from critical public education programs in Texas alone. But the Romney campaign is trying to downplay the significance of President Obama’s education record.

“The vast majority of that (Obama) funding has gone into maintaining the status quo,” Martin West, an education adviser to Romney, said in an article in Education Week.

Professor West, however, misses the point, at least as far as Texas is concerned. The custodians of the status quo in Texas are Gov. Rick Perry and the legislative majority, and they have been consistently lowering it during much of Perry’s administration. The last time Perry and his allies passed a halfway decent public education budget in Texas was in 2009, and that was because they balanced it with about $5 billion of President Obama’s stimulus funds. Perry et al, who delight in bashing President Obama and his stimulus dollars, readily accepted the federal money to bail themselves out of a deep hole that Perry had dug with his 2006 property tax cuts. President Obama’s bailout saved Perry from having to cut the education budget or raise taxes on the eve of his 2010 reelection campaign.

Alas, there wasn’t a federal bailout last year, but the budget hole was still there. And, Perry had been safely reelected. So the governor drove the status quo down even more by slashing $5.4 billion from public school budgets. Now, if Perry, Romney and Ryan have their way, the cuts will be even deeper next year.

The Republican ticket’s budget cuts would go beyond K-12. They also would slash the Pell Grant program for low-income college students. And, that would be shoving the status quo even farther behind.

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