Buckle up folks. We’re five and a half months from the general election and it appears that right now we’ll have five and a half months of two politicians arguing over same-sex marriage.

Really? In perhaps the most important election of all time, this is what we’re going to be talking about?

Don’t get me wrong, same-sex marriage is a real issue. There’s no doubt about that. It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on regarding same-sex marriage, you probably have some very strong feelings about it.

Is that what we should be talking about right now? The country is still reeling from a foreclosure crisis. One, that as a Prince George’s County, Md. native, I know all too well.

The foreclosure crisis hit Prince George’s as well as other places like Las Vegas and Prince William County, Va. hard. For sale signs litter once proud neighborhoods, while some residents, who are still in their homes, struggle to keep them.

But at least we know where Obama and Romney stand on same-sex marriage.
Next we have the issue that Dallas Mavericks-owner Mark Cuban called the new foreclosure crisis: the rising cost of college and the student loan debt it has created.

We’re living in a time where it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for capable students to afford college. The American Dream was to graduate high school, go to college, graduate and then get a good job. That job would allow you to pay back that AFFORDABLE student loan you and/or your parents took out to pay for school.

These days the American dream is a nightmare. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 1999–2000 and 2009–10, prices for undergraduate tuition, room, and board at public institutions rose 37 percent, and prices at private institutions rose 25 percent, after adjustment for inflation.

Those numbers fly in the face of Obama’s goal to once again become the global leader in college educated citizens by 2020. Romney…well…I’m not really sure where he stands on the rising cost of college, but he says students shouldn’t take on more debt than they can handle.

But at least we know where Obama and Romney stand on same-sex marriage.
The nation’s public education system, especially in its inner cities, is for sale. Public charter schools are taking over, not because they’re better schools, but because they’re cost-effective.

Years of neglect have driven families to the suburbs where they find better schools.

As a result you get what you see in Detroit, Philadelphia, New Orleans and various other cities around the country.

Philadelphia’s public schools are pretty much in dissolution mode – planning to close 64 schools by 2017 and while the city hopes to create “achievement networks” where one entity would operate 25 schools, not necessarily in the same area, with full autonomy over the network.

These entities would have to answer to no one. Public dollars given to private companies to educate children. This is the solution being given to fix the problem of educating inner city kids – those kids, most often, are African American or Latino.

While it is true that there are some outstanding charter schools across the country, whether that success can be replicated on a large scale has yet to be proven.

In fact, a Stanford University study on public charter schools in Pennsylvania shows that “Black students in traditional public schools and charters have indistinguishable learning deficits in reading. However,

Black students enrolled in charter schools show significantly worse performance in math compared to

Black students in traditional public schools.”

Both candidates embrace the expansion of charter schools on some level. However, no one is asking them questions about whether or not privatization of education has been successful on a large scale.

But at least we know where Obama and Romney stand on same-sex marriage.
Obama has announced an ambitious plan to end the war in Afghanistan and draw down America’s military footprint around the world.

When he took office, the country was in the midst of two unpopular wars. He’s since done his level best to end them.

He’s also made a concerted effort to curtail military spending. Obama plans to cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next decade.

Meanwhile, Romney, who thinks the government spends too much, doesn’t mind dedicating more to the defense budget. Romney says that now is not the time to paring down the military when the country is still at war. Though many will argue that, he says more funding needs to be dedicated to making sure the military’s readiness is on par to what it was during the Cold War era.

Romney isn’t answering questions from a war-weary public. Obama isn’t answering questions from people who think a specific date isn’t realistic for the end of a war.
But at least we know where Obama and Romney stand on same-sex marriage.

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO