Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is scheduled to discuss his vision of education reform Thursday morning in one of the most heavily Democratic neighborhoods in the nation: West Philadelphia.

The former Massachusetts governor will visit the Universal Bluford Charter School in the 5700 block of Media Street, for a roundtable discussion and a tour of classrooms. The 8:45 a.m. program is not open to the general public.

The visit follows Romney's rollout Wednesday in a Washington speech of policy changes that would encourage more charter schools, and turn $26 billion in federal grants for special-education and low-income students into a type of voucher they could apply to tuition at any public school in their state, as well as online schools and private schools.

Romney's Wednesday speech blistered President Obama, saying he had resisted calls for school reform because teachers unions contribute millions to Democrats.

Obama's reelection campaign retorted by pointing to Romney's record as governor, citing increased class sizes, layoffs of teachers and rising costs at public universities and community colleges.

- Thomas Fitzgerald

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