“Mitt Romney says class sizes don’t matter,” warns an ad released by President Obama’s campaign this week, hard on the heels of a new White House report decrying lost teaching jobs that will allegedly swell classes around the country. As the election heats up, the Obama camp clearly sees class size and teacher layoffs as promising lines of political attack and important ways to energize powerful labor allies less than thrilled with many of the White House’s education priorities over the last four years. Unfortunately for the Dems, however, strident infomercials and gloomy white papers can’t undo the now-awkward but still-sound remarks of Mr. Obama’s education secretary on the issue. “Class size has been a sacred cow and we need to take it on,” Arne Duncan correctly said in 2011, a year after arguing that “districts may be able to save money without hurting students, while allowing modest but smartly targeted increases in class size.” The point of this is not to play Politifact. The Obama administration should be commended for challenging interest groups and liberal dogmas in questioning the cost-effectiveness of continually shrinking classes. Sacrificing that record for cheap political points is not only disingenuous (and a potential opening for the Romney camp to cast the president as a flip flopper): It does students and voters a disservice by setting an important debate back four years.
RELATED ARTICLE: “Obama renews call to save teachers’ jobs citing White House report on bigger class sizes,” Associated Press, August 18, 2012.