The Last Word | May 24, 2012
>>> mitt romney made a visit to a struggling charter school in west philadelphia today. things were going really well, until he brought up class size.
>> i came into office and talked to people and said what do we do to improve our schools and a number of folks said, well, we need smaller classroom sizes, that will make the biggest difference, so i gathered information across our state, we had 351 cities and towns, i said let's compare the average size of classroom students with the success of our schools to see if there was a relationship. in fact the school district with the smallest classrooms, cambridge, had students performing in the bottom 10%.
>> some on the round table took issue with romney 's stance.
>> in first through third grades, if the class size is under 18, those kids stay ahead of everybody else all the way through the school.
>> i can't think of any teacher in the whole time i have been teaching, over 13 years, who would say that they would -- more students would benefit them.
>> right, of course.
>> and i can't think of a parent that would say i would like my teacher to be in a room with a lot of kids and only one teacher. so i'm kind of wondering where this research comes from.
>> so were we, things weren't any better for the republican candidate outside of the school where dozens of protesters gathered, including the mayor of philadelphia .
>> if you're going to talk about education , it would be nice if you had an education record. i would be nice if you had an education platform. it would be nice if you seemed to know something about education , you can go anywhere you want to go. that's the beauty of the united states of america . but the guy's got no record to run on.
>> joining me now, mayor michael nutter of gulf and the vice president of the national education association . why did you choose to go out there today and why are you not happy with mitt romney 's illustrious record on education ?
>> martin, he doesn't have a record and the record that he wants to run on is a pretty bad one. we know that when mitt romney was governor, prince, the students in his state of massachusetts , from fiscal year '03 to '04 had the second largers per pupil cut in the united states of the. the fund mbls of what he talked about today,er second greater knows that having fewer students in the class is going to be better for that student, you'll get better attention from your teachers, specialized kind of services that elementary school students need to perform at a high level in a classroom. so i mean, i have no idea what he's talking about. and if you want to come to philadelphia and talk about education , or if you want to talk about issues in a presidential campaign, then your record is going to be examined. president obama actually has a record. i'm strongly supporting him, mitt romney doesn't and i'm not going to allow him or his folks come to our town and try to dupe people into thinking that he actually knows something about education .
>> right. lily, mitt romney has appointed rod page as his special advisor on education , this is a man who described your union as, and i'm quoting him, a terrorist organization . so how well will teachers get along with a romney administration, do you think?
>> i think that says a lot about how governor romney respects or does not respect educators. i'm a sixth grade teacher from utah and i was elected by my colleagues over 3 million members of the national education association for things like improving class size. i had 39 fifth graders one year. and i wasn't complaining because it was too much work for me, i couldn't reach those kids. and i'll tell you who was more upset than i was, their parents and so to have someone who would like to be the next president of the united states , show that there's such a disconnect between what an average mom and dad want for their own student, something like being in a decent class size so that a teacher can give that kid the personal attention that every child needs. we are just appalled.
>> mayor, the student teacher achievement ratio study has found a 32% reduction in class size from 22 students to 15 increased student achievement by an amount equivalent to about three additional months of schooling. and at least 24 states have mandated or incentivized class size limits in their public schools . what is it that romney doesn't seem to get about class size, or is he using the bain approach, which is basically pile them high and sell them cheap?
>> there is a stack of cheap mentality going on here. and it's the kids that are suffering.
>> i want to hear the mayor on this as well.
>> i don't think your program is long enough to detail what romney doesn't know about education . you brought up the bain approach, this is continued cuts and cuts and more cuts, whether it's in secondary or post secondary education systems, laying off teachers, slashing budgets, and not providing students or their parents with the support that they need to ensure that every child gets a high quality education . so clearly he has gotten an f on his first day out on the issue of education , i don't know what he's going to be talking about tomorrow, but this kind of bain approach which is to spend as little money as possible and somehow maximize, i'm not sure what maximization of return you're going to get. the only way you get a good return on education , is to spend strategical strategically, spend well and spend money or our teachers.
>> mayor, you're making far too much sense. lily, one of the panelists on that round table today posed a question to mitt romney . take a question to this, if you will.
>> whenever they talk about providing education for low income kids, they always talk about sending them to a school, somewhere else .
>> that's right.
>> why can't we have good schools in this neighborhood?
>> mitt romney never did answer that question, perhaps because he touts a program simply to move students somewhere else , never addressing the core issue, which is the school itself.
>> not only that, but one of his proposals is to take one of our seriously underfunded programs like special education and turn special ed funding into a voucher program for people to be subsidized at a private school . but he also talks about our global competition, countries like finland and singapore, but he never talks about what makes them so great. one of the things they did is they said, which are going to have every public school as good as the best public school . wouldn't that be a great thing to run on? to say the kind of school that the governor went to, it was his goal to make sure every child had those facilities those great teachers, those really safe places where they could play and learn and books and computers. that's what no one wants to talk about. you have to have the resources in that school to make that school system work for those kids. they keep wanting these little silver bullet gimmicks, win more test, pay by test scores , labeling kids by test scores , stack them deep, teach them cheap. none of that is going to work for real students.
>> thank you both for joining us, you've been.o
>>> close the wage cap , republican -- an update about the vile of ronald reagan 's blood being put on the auction block, stay with us.