Mitt Romney said Wednesday he would greatly expand school-choice options to address what he called a national education emergency.
Speaking to an audience of Latino business leaders, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee said he would take "unprecedented" steps to help parents get their children out of ineffective public schools and into private schools that would presumably provide a better education.
"I will give the parents of every low-income and special needs students the chance to choose where their child goes to school," Romney told the Latino Coalition Annual Economic Summit. "For the first time in history, federal education funds will be linked to a student, so that parents can send their child to any public or charter school, or to a private school, where permitted."
Romney proposed withholding federal funds from states that did not have an adequate mix of different types of schools, including digital courses. He also would require less-complex reporting on school performance to help parents decide if their neighborhood schools were doing an adequate job.
President Obama's spokesman dismissed Romney's speech as a passing gesture to an issue that has otherwise been given minimal attention.
"I think the president looks forward to defending (his) record," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Colorado. "It's certainly welcome after a long, long campaign season to know that the Republican candidate actually has something to say about education."