A document issued by the Obama administration claims that if the cuts were distributed evenly across all programs—something that neither Romney nor Ryan has ever advocated—they would result in 38,000 fewer teachers and aides for poor children, as well as 27,000 fewer special-education teachers and support staff. What’s more, 200,000 children would be dropped from Head Start and other early education programs, the analysis says.

During the debate, Romney insisted, “I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have a plan to cut education funding.”

But in the past, Romney has said he would do just that, a Washington Post fact-checker wrote.

“In a speech to donors in Florida in the spring overheard by reporters, Mr. Romney said he would either merge the federal Education Department with another agency ‘or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller,’” the Post reported.

For more election coverage, see:

Candidates: Where I stand on education

How school stakeholders view the presidential election

Mitt Romney’s plan to federalize education reform

One item for which Romney did admit he would cut federal funding is public television.

Romney told debate moderator Jim Lehrer, a veteran of the Public Broadcasting Service, that he would stop the federal subsidy to PBS—even though “I love Big Bird.” PBS television programming plays a large role in helping to make sure children enter school ready to learn, its advocates say.

As Romney made his remark about PBS, commenters on Twitter leaped to the defense of their favorite “Sesame Street” characters. Big Bird was a major Twitter trend throughout the night, according to the micro-blogging site, while Oscar the Grouch and Bert and Ernie also were featured.

A spoof Twitter account, @firedbigbird, quickly won thousands of followers, while other Twitter users shared a doctored photo showing the character posing with a cardboard sign pleading for work.