Staff Editorial

Originally Published Nov. 2, 2012:

It’s no secret that Community High School has a liberal-leaning student body. Therefore, it’s no surprise that when 110 students recently filled out a Communicator-administered survey, approximately two-thirds said they identified as Democrats. We should remember that there are students and staff with other perspectives (five percent self-identified as Republicans and the remaining 30 percent chose to affiliate with neither party) but it’s a safe assumption that an endorsement of Barack Obama represents a majority of Community High School.

However, these facts only tell us whom the school supports. It’s just as important to consider why Community chooses Obama. As high school students, saying, “I’m liberal” shouldn’t justify a choice of candidates. We’re old enough to consider how and why Obama would best represent us through specific policy and positions. Obama deserves re-election because his aims align with issues that are critically relevant to Community High School students, including protection of public schools, accessibility of higher education, and LGBT acceptance.

This is not to say that high school students cannot choose a candidate based on issues that are currently more applicable to working adults, like the economy and health care, or on foreign policy issues. These decisions still affect us and we should get informed. However, the government should represent our current interests, and for these interests Obama is a clear choice.

In the last few years, CHS has been hit hard by steep budget cuts, and the ensuing struggles and sacrifices have shown us the value of protecting public education. We know the difference that great teachers can make.

Obama has shown a clear commitment to preserving and promoting funding for education. His stimulus package gave about $100 million to education, with a large portion focused on keeping teachers’ jobs. A Center on Education Policy at George Washington University study in July found that the stimulus “largely met the goal of saving or creating jobs for K-12 teachers.” Obama wants to invest $25 million this year into keeping teachers employed, says the White House website And his 2013 budget appropriates $69.8 billion to the Department of Education, a 2.5 percent increase from 2012.

Mitt Romney’s commitment to education is murkier. In the Oct. 3 presidential debate, Romney said “I’m not going to cut education funding.” But in an April 15 speech to donors, he said that he would either consolidate the Department of Education or “make it a heck of a lot smaller.” And the Romney-Ryan campaign has been sharply criticized for supposed cuts to education in Paul Ryan’s budget. The Washington Post reported that compared to Obama’s budget, Ryan’s would provide $33 million less for the areas of “Education, training, employment, and social services.” In addition, The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities found Romney’s own budget could potentially cut, in 2016, $133 billion from nondefense discretionary spending, a big public services category that includes elementary and secondary education.

We need to look at what Romney does, not just what he says. Though he may claim he won’t cut education, his budget and choice of a running mate send a different message.

Affordability of higher education is especially relevant to the many Community High School students preparing for college. The government should support students in affording college so that students from families with modest income can have a fair shot.

As the Communicator Web reported in January when Obama spoke at the University of Michigan, the President wants to keep interest on student loans low. In June, he pushed Congress to extend the low rates for a year, which it did. He helped reshape the student loan industry in 2010 and, according to the Washington Post, saved about $61 billion by cutting out middlemen, such as banks, that were distributing student loans. A little over half of those savings went to federal Pell Grants, grants the government provides to students in need to help them afford college.

Romney, however, seems less concerned. In March, a student asked him
about affordability of higher education, and Romney said that his best advice was to “shop around.” Romney wants to reintroduce the private sector into student loans, reversing Obama’s restructuring of the industry. Obama contends this would raise loan rates.

Finally, Community prides itself on being an accepting school. Though we still have areas in which to improve, the community is committed to supporting LGBT students. These students deserve that support as they move through their lives, and that should include the full rights that straight people are entitled to, including marriage.

Obama made waves on May 9 when he became the first president to announce support for gay marriage while in office. Obama also ended the ban on service by openly gay members of the military, and his administration decided not to protect the Defense of Marriage Act. He also supports same-sex adoption. It took Obama several years to express his support for gay marriage, but the proclamation, despite being belated, is huge. His support tells members of the LGBT community the government understands that they are entitled to equal rights.

Romney, though, continues to oppose gay marriage and wants to enshrine a “defense” of traditional marriage into a federal constitutional amendment. Romney has said he doesn’t support discrimination against gay people, so he must not understand that depriving members of the population of marriage rights is also discrimination.