On the Issues: Education

If there's anything everyone agrees on, it's that education is the key to a better future, better jobs and better lives.

But with the quality of public schools declining, and college costs climbing, both candidates agree education policy must be better, too.

"Testing our kids, excellent curriculum, superb teachers, and school choice, those are the answers to help our schools,” former Governor Mitt Romney said.

Romney cites his experience in the State House to convince voters he'll improve education if he gets to the White House.

As governor, Romney increased the number of charter schools, and expanded merit scholarships for high school students here. Romney also supports school choice:

"When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance," Romney said.

President Obama has focused on education policy and price.

He's doubled funding for college Pell Grants, and reformed the student loan process.

"Now you have a choice,” the president said. “We can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don't have the money."

The strike by teachers in Chicago signified another critical difference between Obama and Romney. Because teachers are an important part of the Democratic coalition, the president didn't criticize the teachers for walking out…but Romney would:

"We have to stand up to the federal teachers unions and put the kids first and the unions behind," Romney said.

As usual, education is an important, but not critical, issue in this race. Until it's considered critical, candidates from both parties will be able to avoid the decline of our education system, and the decisions it will take to fix it.