My View: Why I will vote for President Obama
President Barack Obama talks with teachers during a education roundtable at Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 22, 2012.
October 24th, 2012
04:10 AM ET

My View: Why I will vote for President Obama

Courtesy Jack MillerBy Diane Ravitch, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Diane Ravitch was assistant secretary of education in the administration of George H.W. Bush. She is a historian of education and is now a research professor at New York University.  She is the author of several books on education, including her latest “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education.”   She blogs daily at and can be followed on Twitter at @DianeRavitch.

Schools of Thought will be publishing other views on this topic in the days up to the election.

(CNN) - Over the past three years, I have been an outspoken critic of the education policies of the Obama administration. In my view, Race to the Top is a disastrous program that is almost indistinguishable from the Bush administration’s failed No Child Left Behind legislation. Both programs require teaching to the test, both encourage privatization of our public schools, and both have demoralized the nation’s educators while doing nothing to improve education.

But as bad as the Obama education policies are, they are tolerable in comparison to what Mitt Romney plans. Romney claims credit for the academic successes of Massachusetts, but he had nothing to do with the gains in that state, which were enacted 10 years before he became governor. The Massachusetts education reforms doubled the budget for public schools, increased spending on early childhood education, and raised standards for new teachers, but Romney intends to do none of that if elected President.

If elected president, Romney will curtail spending on everything except privatization of public education. He will lower standards for entering the teaching profession. His policies will devastate our public schools and dismantle the education profession. He supports charters and vouchers and welcomes the takeover of public schools by for-profit entrepreneurs. Unlike the Massachusetts reforms that he wrongly takes credit for, he offers not a single idea to improve public education. Romney nowhere acknowledges that free public education is a public responsibility and an essential institution in a democratic society.

Under a Romney administration, I fear not only for the future of public education but for the future of our society. Presently, nearly 25% of American children are growing up in poverty. We lead the advanced nations of the world in child poverty. Romney offers no proposals to reduce that scandalous number. Only government action can make a dent in a problem of that magnitude, but Romney believes in private charity, not government action.

What frightens me most about the Romney-Ryan ticket is the Republican Party’s rigid ideology. There have been times in recent history when moderate Republicans were in the ascendancy in the party. Today, the moderates are gone; the GOP is dominated by radical anti-government ideologues. The party seems determined to roll back the social policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and to bring our society back to the 1920s. We know what followed the free-market exhilaration of the 1920s.

If Romney has the chance to select one or two or three Supreme Court justices, then women’s rights, voting rights, and the rights of minorities will be imperiled. We can anticipate that a Romney Supreme Court would favor the rights of multinational corporations over consumers and individuals.

One shudders to imagine what will happen to our environment, to our water and air, if its protection is turned over to those who deny the reality of climate change and who despise regulation. We can expect that our precious resources of parks, beaches, and oceans will be handed over to private enterprise to mine for profit—theirs, not ours.

What of the millions of jobs that Romney promises to create? Romney’s private company was known for outsourcing well-paying middle-class jobs to low-wage nations. In the debates, he has expressed admiration for trickle-down economics, his belief that whatever helps the rich and powerful will eventually create jobs further down the food chain. We can expect that jobs of the future created by a Romney administration will be for retail clerks, fast food servers, operators in call centers, and home health aides, none paying the kinds of salaries that lift families into the middle class.

Romney has made clear that he will not pay for early childhood education, despite the fact that an independent survey by The Economist magazine ranked the U.S. 24th in the world in taking care of its youngest citizens.  His education platform says that he will not expand any federal aid to college students now drowning in debt. Nor will he increase support for prenatal care for indigent women, even though a survey by the March of Dimes reported last spring that the U.S. ranked 131st among 180 nations in protecting the health of pregnant women; in that respect, we rank shamefully alongside Somalia.

A Romney administration promises a society in which life is very sweet for those at the very top, but hard, mean, and brutish for the growing number of Americans falling out of the middle class and into poverty.

Every successful nation in the world has taken positive steps to reduce income inequality, to reduce poverty, and to protect the environment in which we all live.

I cannot support a candidate who promises to shred the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens. I cannot support a candidate who wants to reward those who are richest and to deny government support to those who need help to survive. I do not want to turn the clock back almost a century.

That is why I will vote to re-elect President Obama.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Diane Ravitch.

soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. creditos badoo

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    November 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  2. spencertime

    As a teacher and a true Independent, I am disappointed in Diane’s post–especially with her presumably voting in a Blue state. We named our 4-year old, “Barack” in July 2008. As an African American male, I admire Obama in many ways. However, I think he and the Dems need to understand that educated folk make decisions that transcend partisanship or some Band-Aid approach to education. I think the rationale that supports Diane’s vote is partly the reason why the Arne Duncans of Democratic administrations can exist and we have to stomach neoliberal/neoconservative education policies. The rationale is part of the problem. Blogging opinions pales compared to the opinion via suffrage–the final opinion. Opinions in blogs may not survive the historical marathon. But, popular sovereignty will. Unfortunately, Diane’s post is just one more example that the people’s sovereignty is inextricably tied to the dichotomized political narratives from which we feed. Diane is no exception.

    November 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  3. squirrelyone

    We're side by side with Somalia? Oh, those are fighting words . . .

    October 31, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  4. Marie

    I don't think either candidate has a good plan for education. I don't like that Romney wants to privatize. It adds an element to education that has no place... profit. I don't like that Obama wants to throw money at a system that isn't working without making the reforms first that are needed. I don't think either are going to do a thing to fix it. People you can't sit around and wait for the government to educate your children the right way, take that matter into your own hands and make sure your children succeed. Put in the work if you want results. This is your responsibility as a parent.

    October 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  5. Don S

    Diane Ravich writes about how past government education and social policy has been a complete failure but wants more of it rather than change to a commercial model that has proven to be more effective.

    October 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  6. Commie Tactics

    President Obama is traditionally viewed as an African American because of his father’s heritage in Kenya. However, while researching his Caucasian mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, genealogists found her to have African heritage as well. Their interest piqued, the researchers kept digging. DNA analysis helped confirm that Dunham’s ancestors, known as white landowners in Colonial Virginia, actually descended from an African man. Existing records suggest that this man, John Punch, had children with a white woman who then passed her free status on to their offspring. Some of Punch’s descendants went on to be free, successful land owners in a Virginia entrenched in slavery.

    In related news, claims that they have learned that OBama is directly decendant from Jesus Christ and Moses, and posseses both Hebrew and God DNA. The race card was not discovered in Barack`s DNA, they said. Great news. This will be the first time that GOD DNA has lost an election.

    October 30, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  7. stephen

    oddly, no one reports the fact that the Federal Reserve was allowed under Obama to give away 16 trillion dollars to banks and companies. Add that to our debt of 16 trillion, thats 32 trillion....not 16 trillion. the news wont carry that. pls feel free to research this.

    October 30, 2012 at 5:33 am |
  8. Name*Jesse Capps Sr.

    Why go back to Republican ? Romney doesn't have a plan. Just to make Obama a one term President, he won't be ! I love this country and our President.

    October 30, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Maryam Ware


      November 2, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  9. steve

    Educator/Teacher votes for Obama? No way!! Who else is going to take money from the Tarp fund to pay for the teachers over compensated pension system. LOL Teacher unions are by far the most power hungry money grubbing unions in the country. Look at prop 32 in calfornia increase taxes on everyone so they can fund their pension...screw the kids.

    October 30, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  10. shamoononon

    OMG!!! People actually except the government to pay for pre-kindergarden daycare and pre-school? 0.0 Where we get the money?

    October 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  11. shamoononon

    Romney wants to give out bonds for private school????!!!! I didn't know that. I've been wanting to put my child in private school for a long time but California doesn't give out bonds. You know, I think the public system is kind of bad, I want out of it and I think it's fair to allow a parent to go into the private schools and they should be able to use the money that would otherwise go into public schools.

    I'm sorry, but what happened in Chicago showed one of many reasons why private schools are better.

    October 29, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • Adam

      I went to public school in MA and it was great.

      October 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  12. Luiz Garcia

    Why I am voting for Romney. I need jobs and a better economy. Not 4 more years of broken promises. Sorry but sheer truth AND not all latinos vote the same. I am NOT for illegal immigration either.

    October 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • lucidlynx

      so please tell me what's romney's plan to create jobs!

      October 30, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Carlos

      I am sorry to hear that you like most Latinos feed into baseless stereotypes. I may be mistaken, but I didn't see one post that suggested the notion that anybody was in support of illegal immigration. Instead however, you feel it necessary to defend a stance based on your ethnicity that no one has challenged you on. As far as your economy comment, previous administrations and bipartisan posturing is the reason why were struggling to get out of the recession. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research the United States had been in a recession since December of 2007. Research does the mind and body good, you should try it.

      October 30, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Equalizer357

      Romney's secret plan to stimulate employment, first and foremost FIRE Obama..

      October 30, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  13. Lee

    The high divorce rate in the U.S. contributes significantly to the increase of poverty. The divorce rate is now at or above 51%. Per the 2010 Census Report: 50% of all white households are headed by a single white female; 75% of all black households are headed by a single black female. Single parent homes will most likely fall into poverty due to the one income. Much of the blame in this article is misdirected. Individual responsibility has been abdicated for increased government intervention and social programs.

    October 29, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Luiz Garcia

      Truth hurts

      October 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • lucidlynx

        And you love Romney so much because he's full of lies.

        October 30, 2012 at 8:33 am |
      • Maryam Ware

        Finally! a great writer! go Diane Ravitch!

        November 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • lucidlynx

      So you're saying the government is responsible for forcing couples to divorce? What an idiotic statement!

      October 30, 2012 at 8:32 am |
      • Marie

        Actually, I believe the poster is saying that American's are putting themselves in the situation of being in single parent homes. Therefore having to make due with either no income or an income that isn't enough to care for their families. These are values that are taught. I value my marriage because I love my husband and am therefore committed to making our relationship work and being a family for our children. I think it's important to note that these days people are so quick to give up on anything that takes effort. The til death do us part, part of the vows is there for a reason. When you have children out of wed lock and you don't take your relationship with the mother or father of your children seriously and you act like your decision to be in a relationship with the mother or father of your children is only effecting you, you are wrong. The government will always fail when trying to pick up the slack. These are not the responsibilities of our government or the tax payer these are individuals responsibilities that aren't being met.

        October 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Equalizer357

      Black women has the highest % as single moms....who's your Daddy..?

      October 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  14. Joseph Osei-Barfi

    Good piece! Globalised world needs a new approach. No more a super macho nation for strength this time is based on leadership that will draw all along but not intimidate others. The world is becoming more democratic. Our strength lies in being accepted. Acceptance will come through tactful wisdom.

    October 29, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • SAWolf

      They world is becoming more democratic???? Not planet Earth, unfortunately.

      October 29, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • dm

      Obama represents the audacity of hypocrisy:

      He said he would close GITMO, but he didn't.
      He said he would pass comprehensive immigration reform, but didn't.
      He said he opposed executive privilege but used it on fast and furious.
      He said he would be transparent, but the health care bill was debated in private.
      He said he would not pursue the single payer option, but did.
      He said the health care bill would reduce costs, but they increased.
      He said he would cut the deficit in half, but didn't.
      He blasted Bush for debt, but then increased it by $6 trillion.
      He said he would unite the country, but divides it along income and race.
      He said the stimulus would save the economy, but it didn't.
      He blasts Romney for outsourcing, but the stimulus outsourced jobs.
      He said green energy would work, but his investments have failed.
      He said his plan would reduce unemployment to 4%, but it is still nearly at 8%.
      He opposes torture such as waterboarding, but he is willing to drone strike terrorists.
      He bashed Bush for his foreign policy, but Obama can't get his story straight on Libya.

      October 29, 2012 at 11:42 am |
      • Luiz Garcia

        Fanastic summation of 4 years of Obama. Sadly I voted for him 4 years ago.. but not this time. Romney all the way.

        October 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
      • elrota

        You guys know something? I mean the tea pretties and the republicans, even with all the Karl Rove's sloganisms and misinformation and all the other vultures that suck away your money, you cannot see past your nose!!!

        October 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
      • lucidlynx

        all lies – not from obama but from you!

        October 30, 2012 at 8:28 am |
      • Equalizer357

        Obama is terrified with well Informed voters..

        October 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
      • Maryam Ware

        OBAMA 2012

        November 2, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
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    October 29, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  16. Ordinary Average American

    Iraq will always be debated.
    President Bush took a risk. Leaders have to do that sometimes.
    Like Obama's people continue to claim on Benghazi, Bush made the best possible decision based upon the best available information at the time.
    People who have not studied World War 2 or the Cold War do not understand how this international Monopoly game or Real life Risk game works. If we had stopped Germany early, we would have stopped World War 2.
    For the record, terrible weapons of mass destruction were found or suspected traces were found in Iraq.
    Why would Bush think that they had great weapons?
    Because Iraq had been leaking the information out, which helped keep his enemy Iran at bay.
    President Bush and the United States had been blind-sided by the 9-11-01 attacks.
    It wasn't going to happen again.
    No one else was going to do a surprise attack on the United States on President Bush's watch. No one.
    How would an Iraq with WMD attack the United States?
    Would Sadaam bring one into an American city and surprise us, or would he attack our forces in Afghanistan.
    They're neighbors over there, you know.
    ANSWER: Iraq was not going to attack the United States anywhere. Iraq would be neutered. We would change their hostile government, find any weapons that might harm us, and destroy them. President Bush prevented World War 3, and prevented the loss of millions of lives, just like WE SHOULD HAVE DONE in Germany in the 1930's.
    You complain now, but you do not realize what could have happened and what was prevented. Just like Iran is now doing, Iraq wanted nuclear and Iraq wanted domination of the whole region – just like Iran.
    I also don't think the anti-Iraq-War people understand what Sadaam had been doing since August 1990. I don't think they know what Iraq did to Kuwait. I don't think they know how that "no fly zone" worked out in the 12 years since Operation Desert Storm.
    No one in a democracy wants war. I don't. You don't. The soldiers and sailors sure don't. But sometimes we have to defend ourselves, and we figured that out fast on 911. No, Iraq didn't attack us on 9-11-01, but Iraq was not going to threaten us over there while we took care of business with the Taliban and Al Qaeda either.
    When we took out Sadaam, we save millions of Iraqis. We saved them from a terrible dictator, and helped them choose their own government. If you don't like that, you had better remember that Obama did something very similar in Libya.
    If it's good enough for Obama, then don't complain about Bush.
    I love peace just as much as the next flower-child, but sometimes the real world doesn't work that way.

    October 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Brucew29

      Based upon your reasoning or Republican reasoning, we should invade Iran next... and then we should invade Korea, and then we should invade China...and then we should next invade...etc...

      Love always,
      From a Vetnam Vet/Flower Child...

      October 28, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
      • Brucew29

        Please excuse my typo..."Vietnam" and Not "Vetnam"

        Love always,
        From a Vietnam Vet/Flower Child...

        October 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
      • SAWolf

        Might prevent the HEMP attack on the US the mullahs are planning.

        October 29, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • mugzee

      Are we rambling ???

      October 29, 2012 at 2:25 am |
    • Equalizer357

      well, i think VETNAM suits for you...

      October 30, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
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