EDUCATION
10/11/2012 12:48 pm ET

MSNBC NOW Panel Discusses Romney's Big Bird Comments And PBS, State Of Public Education

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MSNBC's NOW panel on Wednesday discussed Mitt Romney’s infamous Big Bird comments and his wavering views on education, as well as the two schools of thought when it comes to Republicans’ stance on the current state of public education.

MSNBC played a clip from March 5 in which the Massachusetts governor told a crowd in Youngstown, Ohio, to “shop around” in order to find the lowest-cost college for the education you want because “you don’t want huge debts.”

In a separate address April 27, Romney encouraged Ohio students to “take a risk,” such as starting a business, and if that doesn't work, “borrow money from your parents.

Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson said the Republican candidate's comments indicate that he has “no visceral or tangible connection to this world,” and that Romney fails to understand how much money teachers spend out-of-pocket on their students. Dyson maintains that this is where the dishonest and disingenuous nature of Romney comes from.

Speaking about the governor’s comments regarding PBS, host Alex Wagner said the vilification of Big Bird rejects the importance of early childhood education and the role that channels like PBS play for low-income kids who don’t attend nursery schools or preschools. Dyson chimed in that many immigrants learn English from Sesame Street, and that PBS has been an outlet for education for people who otherwise don’t have access to the types of institutions Mitt Romney wants people to borrow money to attend.

New York Times Magazine editor Hugo Lindgren countered that he doesn’t think the Big Bird and public education comparison is accurate. Rather underscoring the fundamental policy differences between Obama and Romney when it comes to public education, as related to vouchers. MSNBC contributor Joy Reid expands on that, noting the belief on the right that education should be voucherized and privatized for profit, much like how the charter school movement is a potentially profitable business model.

“They think that public education promotes a socialist worldview and deletes religion,” Reid said. “They want to be able to teach creationism and do things the public education system doesn’t allow.”

Watch the full discussion above.

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