By Caitlyn Crenshaw–
At a closed fundraising event on April 15, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney vowed to shrink the Department of Education. Romney said that if elected, “I will either consolidate it with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller.”
Although Romney also said, “I’m not going to get rid of it entirely,” response to these comments has sparked controversy within the political arena and the education world. “Romney is out of touch. He doesn’t get it,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.
One of the reasons Romney cited to keep the agency is to have a federal role in pushing back against teachers’ unions. Weingarten said, “If all he wants to do is use the Department of Education to go after union, then he’s clearly not interested in using it to help kids.”
This year, the Department of Education with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which Romney has also mentioned shrinking or consolidating, will total expenditures equaling $155 billion.
At the time of the comment concerning the Department of Education Romney was unaware that reporters were listening. Representatives for Romney told CNN, “He was tossing out ideas, not unveiling policy.”
When asked how Romney’s comments affect her view and vote, Jessie Halonen said, “I would have to consider what impact those changes would have.”
Halonen, a fifth year accounting major, also said, “I don’t think that most people look at a candidate as a whole,” and that has the potential to harm Romney’s race for the White House.
This is not the first time that Romney has commented on cutting the department. In 1994, Romney suffered a blow to his senate campaign when democratic opponent Robert Kennedy ran a political ad quoting his plan to consolidate the Department of Education.
Photo courtesy Steve Deace