Mitt Romney said Wednesday he will expand Washington’s endangered voucher program as part of a broad push for more school choice nationwide, setting up a dramatic contrast with President Obama, who has called for the D.C. program to be phased out, and with teachers unions, which have fought against expanded choice.

Mr. Romney announced the push on education in a speech in Washington as he made overtures to Hispanic voters, who regularly tell pollsters that access to education is one of their top concerns — even above immigration — and who generally support vouchers.

“Here we are in the most prosperous nation, but millions of kids are getting a Third World education. And America’s minority children suffer the most,” Mr. Romney said in a speech to the Latino Coalition, a conservative Hispanic organization. “This is the civil rights issue of our era. And it’s the great challenge of our time.”

And he declared war on teachers unions, saying they “are the clearest example of a group that has lost its way.” He said Mr. Obama is too beholden to the unions to be able to reform the school system.

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