Rejecting a “one size fits all” approach to education, the 2012 GOP education platform advocates providing broad education choices to parents and children at the state and local level -- whether through charter schools, open enrollment requests, college lab schools, virtual schools, career and technical education programs, vouchers or tax credits. According to the platform, consumer rights in education -- choice -- remains the most important force in renewing America’s schools.
The party does not see pumping more money into schools as a means of advancing academic achievement, citing the fact the U.S. already spends an average of more than $10,000 per pupil per year in public schools -- a total of over $550 billion.
“If money were the solution, our schools would be problem-free,” the platform reads. “More money alone does not necessarily equal better performance.”
Instead, the GOP outlines what is in fact powering education reform at the local level across America:
- Accountability on the part of administrators, parents and teachers
- Higher academic standards
- Programs that support the development of character and financial literacy
- Periodic rigorous assessments on the fundamentals, especially math, science, reading, history and geography
- Renewed focus on the Constitution and the writings of the Founding Fathers, and an accurate account of American history that celebrates the birth of this great nation
- Transparency, so parents and the public can discover which schools best serve their pupils
- Flexibility and freedom to innovate, so schools can adapt to the special needs of their students and hold teachers and administrators responsible for student performance
Republicans also support the policies and methods that they sayhave proven effective over the years, such as an emphasis on STEM subjects, merit pay for teachers and proper implementation of technology into the classroom to facilitate learning.
Reiterating its commitment to school choice, the GOP advocates “options for learning,” including home schooling, single-sex classes, full-day school hours and year-round schools.
The platform also lauds Congressional Republicans’ efforts to repeal numerous federal regulations that interfere with state and local control of public schools. It pushes for expansion of the controversial D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, the first federally funded school voucher program in the U.S., claiming it should serve as a model for the rest of the country.
In an effort to ensure that “all students have access to the mainstream of American life,” the GOP stands behind the “English First” approach and opposes “divisive programs that limit students’ ability to advance in American society.”
Broaching the subject of sex education in schools, the Republican platform issues a renewed call for replacing “family planning” programs for teens with abstinence education, as that is the only way to protect against out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases. Branching off of that, the party opposes school-based clinics that provide referrals, counseling and related services for abortion and contraception. It also rejects the allocation of federal funds to mandatory or universal mental health, psychiatric or socio-emotional screening programs.
When it comes to evaluating teachers, the GOP supports reserving the “highly qualified teacher” designation for teachers who achieve results in the classroom, as opposed to those who merely boast impressive credentials. The party states it will back legislation that revises the current law provision, which as is identifies highly qualified teachers on the basis of their credentials.
Addressing the rising costs of college, the GOP platform recommends a return to higher education programs tied directly to job opportunities; this entails pushing for low-cost alternatives to traditional four-year colleges, such as expanded community colleges and technical institutions, private training schools and online universities.
Finally, the federal government “should not be in the business of originating student loans,” according to the platform. Rather, it should serve as an insurance guarantor for the private sector as those companies offer loans to students.