The 2016 Presidential election is already shaping up to be an exciting one. A whopping 17 candidates are vying for the GOP Presidential nomination, meaning that any small advantage could go a long way in allowing candidates to distinguish themselves from the crowded field.
On August 6th, the Republican Party had its first chance to showcase all of its presidential candidates on the same stage, for the first presidential debate of the year. With 24 million viewers (the most ever to watch a non-sports-related TV event), the debate gave these presidential hopefuls a chance to elaborate on their policy positions, and let viewers find ways to distinguish between a roster of candidates that all seem to agree with the same principles.
For HSLDA, this debate offered a glimpse into what the candidates believe about issues that matter to homeschoolers. The debate can be watched in full here. But here are two exchanges that matter for homeschoolers.
1. Mike Huckabee on the Department of Education:
Governor Huckabee, on Facebook, John Pietricone asked this, “Will you abolish or take away the powers and cut the size of the EPA, the IRS, the Department of Education?”
It’s not too big to shrink. But the problem is we have a Wall Street-to-Washington access of power that has controlled the political climate. The donor class feeds the political class who does the dance that the donor class wants. And the result is federal government keeps getting bigger.
Every person on this stage who has been a governor will tell that you the biggest fight they had was not the other party. Wasn’t even the legislature. It was the federal government, who continually put mandates on the states that we had to suck up and pay for.
And the fact is there are a lot of things happening at the federal level that are absolutely beyond the jurisdiction of the Constitution. This is power that should be shifted back to the states, whether it’s the EPA, there is no role at the federal level for the Department of Education.
2. Governor Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio on the Common Core Standards:
Governor Bush, you are one of the few people on the stage who advocates for Common Core education standards, reading and math. A lot of people on this stage vigorously oppose federal involvement in education. They say it should all be handled locally.
President Obama’s secretary of education, Arnie Duncan, has said that most of the criticism of Common Core is due to a, quote, “fringe group of critics.” Do you think that’s accurate?
No, I don’t. And I don’t believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content. It is clearly a state responsibility.
I’m for higher standards measured in an intellectually honest way, with abundant school choice, ending social promotion. And I know how to do this because as governor of the state of Florida I created the first statewide voucher program in the country, the second statewide voucher program, in the country and the third statewide voucher program in the country.
And we had rising student achievement across the board, because high standards, robust accountability, ending social promotion in third grade, real school choice across the board, challenging the teachers union and beating them is the way to go.
And Florida’s low income kids had the greatest gains inside the country. Our graduation rate improved by 50 percent. That’s what I’m for.
Senator Rubio, why is Governor Bush wrong on Common Core?
Well, first off, I too believe in curriculum reform. It is critically important in the 21st Century. We do need curriculum reform. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed.
Here’s the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate.
In fact, what they will begin to say to local communities is, you will not get federal money unless do you things the way we want you to do it. And they will use Common Core or any other requirements that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states.
And do you agree with your old friend?
He is definitely my friend. And I think the states ought to create these standards. And if states want to opt out of Common Core, fine. Just make sure your standards are high.
Because today in America, a third of our kids, after we spend more per student than any country in the world other than a couple rounding errors, to be honest with you, 30 percent are college- and/or career-ready.
If we are going to compete in this world we’re in today, there is no possible way we can do it with lowering expectations and dumbing down everything. Children are going to suffer and families’ hearts are going to be broken that their kids won’t be able to get a job in the 21st Century.
Stay tuned as HSLDA continues to cover the 2016 Campaign! We will be publishing articles and weekly profiles about each candidate’s position on Common Core on our blog.
Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik / AP Photo