Education and the 2012 Presidential Election - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Education and the 2012 Presidential Election

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Education; it's an issue that was glossed over in the recent presidential debates is still important to many voters as they get ready to head to the polls on November 6.

"Public education in my point of view should be foremost. You know, the economy obviously impacts public education but it will only grow if you have an educated workforce," said Steve Knighton, Principal of Piedmont Elementary School.

President Barack Obama has promised to increase the education budget, including federal aid, so more kids can get a quality education and afford to go to college.

In a recent interview with NBC News, Obama said rival Mitt Romney would do the exact opposite.

"They're talking about slashing our investment in education by 20 percent, 25 percent. We've already seen 300,000 teachers that have been fired across the country, and as a consequence, class sizes have gone up by 5 percent," he said.

Romney has countered that college tuition rates have sky-rocketed since Obama took office.

He also wants to bring private lenders back into the student loan arena.

Romney said his home state of Massachusetts did exceptionally well while he was Governor.

"My state of Massachusetts, our schools are ranked #1 in the nation. Four federal measure, on all four, ranked number one, how did we get there? We got there because we understand the key to a great school is having great teachers. We need to put our teachers and our kids and our families first and leave the teachers union behind," he said.

Despite Romney's vocal jabs at the unions, the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers has not backed the national endorsement of Obama.

"We think there's too much bureaucracy at the top and so we feel that more money, more of the education budget, needs to be directed to the classroom, said Judy Hale, President of AFT-WV.

Hale said most budget changes will happen at the state and not federal level.

"Practically everything we do in the classroom is controlled by policies at the state board of education, or by laws that have been enacted by the legislature," she said.

Still, plenty of federal programs do affect schools in West Virginia, including President Obama's 'Race to the Top' . This scoring system was designed to improve K-12 schools with billions of dollars worth of competitive grants up for grabs.

Romney has praised parts of the program in the past, but overall, has said the federal government has placed too many regulations and restrictions on educators over the past four years.

"Under President Obama, when we look at the excessive regulation and the burdens placed on teachers, it's become a difficult place for teachers do to their job of teaching," said Conrad Lucas, West Virginia Republic Party Chairman.

Click here to learn more about Obama's education initiatives.

Click here to learn more about Romney's education initiatives.