DETROIT -- Vice President Joe Biden, in a speech Sunday to the nation's second largest teachers unions, said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn't treat public education as a priority and distrusts the hardworking teachers who struggle to create opportunity for the nation's young people.

Biden addressed 2,500 delegates at the American Federation of Teachers national convention in Detroit on Sunday.

Biden painted Romney as planning to gut education funding to finance tax breaks for the wealthy.

From what Romney and his GOP rivals said during the primary debates, "it looks like they don't think public education is worth the investment," Biden said.

A spokesman for Romney's campaign accused Biden – and President Barack Obama – of kowtowing to teachers unions. "Instead of putting students first, this administration has put the union bosses that fund their political campaigns ahead of what's best for our children," said spokesman Sean Fitzpatrick.

"Mitt Romney has the plan and record to put students first and make sure that they have a job waiting for them when they graduate," Fitzpatrick said.

Overall, Biden told the teachers, the GOP has made a significant move to the right. "This is not your father's Republican Party," he said. "I am not questioning their motives, but I am questioning their judgment."

Biden said Romney backs Republican budget plans to slash spending on the Head Start preschool program, as well as grants and loans for college students.

The AFT represents 1.5 million teachers, second in membership to the 3.2 million-member National Education Association.

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