Mitt Romney accused President Obama of being cowed by teachers' unions as he offered a package of education proposals designed to give students more opportunities to choose which school to attend.
The Republican plans to spotlight his proposals Thursday in Philadelphia, a city where school choice advocates have been particularly active.
In a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Romney assailed the administration's record on education reform while calling for measures to make it easier for students to choose where to attend schools. He said that federal funds for low income and special needs students should follow the student, rather than being sent to states of school districts, and that students should be able to use them at charter schools or schools beyond district lines. He did not propose any changes in the federal funding levels for schools.
For Romney, the subject was a shift from his general concentration on economic issues. In his speech, he gave a passing glance at the Obama campaign's continuing assault on his record as CEO of Bain Capital, accusing the president of waging "a war on job creators.''
But his chief indictment of the president focused on the nation's lagging education statistics and what he characterized as an administration response to the issue hamstrung by an unwillingness to offend the interests of teachers' unions.
"The teachers unions are the clearest example of a group that has lost its way,'' Mr. Romney said. "Whenever anyone offers a new idea, the unions protest the loudest.''
Citing the unions' support for Mr. Obama and other Democrats, he contended that, "The president has been unable to stand up to union bosses -- and unwilling to stand up for kids.''
Mr. Romney also said he would prod states to move to open enrollment polices for students receiving federal funds, and eliminate caps on charter schools and digital schools.
Mr. Romney planned to spotlight his proposals Thursday in a stop at the Universal Bluford Charter School in Philadelphia.
The Obama campaign planned a rebuttal to the Romney speech later Wednesday afternoon. We'll give you an update when we hear more.