Rick Santorum Addresses Shrinking Federal Role in Education

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Rick Santorum addressing Polk County Republicans in Des Moines, IA.

While in Des Moines, Iowa campaigning on Tuesday former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) made a few comments about the federal governments role in education. First after speaking as part of the Iowa Caucus Consortium Candidate Series Santorum held a press avail, and I was able to ask him a question about the work to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.

“If I had a do-over I would not have supported No Child Left Behind simply because I don’t think there has been any discernible improvement of educational quality in America now that the federal government has gotten involved in education. I am willing to do this radical experiment and let parents and teachers and local communities be back in charge of the education of their children because my guess is they care more about these children than the bureaucrats in Washington, DC and the revolution I called for in my book, Blue Collar Conservatives, is to put parents and the local communities back in charge of education. I think we are going to see, and again incorporating the families into that experience, we are going to see a lot stronger educational results as a result of that,” Santorum answered.

Santorum later yesterday spoke to the Polk County Republican Central Committee where he brought up the U.S. Department of Education answering a question about what he would do to reduce the size of government.

“One department that I would shrink is the Department of Education. We went from 2 percent of education spending when I came to Congress, the federal government was responsible for 2 percent of education spending, it’s now eleven. Does anyone think schools have gotten better over the last 20 years? We need to get rid of that spending, No Child Left Behind, Common Core, all of these things can be taken out of Washington, DC. Shrink the Department of Education and put the money back where it belongs to the states. In fact, get rid of the money and the states and local governments deal with it,” Santorum said.

Ted Cruz, Rand Paul Receive an A – on Common Core Report Card

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U.S. Senator Rand Paul, along with Ted Cruz, received an A-.

ThePulse2016, American Principles in Action, and Cornerstone Policy Research released  a Common Core score card on all of the major Republican candidates minus former New York Governor George Pataki and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.  Leaders are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY) received an A-, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal received a B+.  On the other end of the spectrum former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Ohio Governor John Kasich received an F.  Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie receive a D+.  Surprisingly, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio received a C.

Here are the candidates’ grades:

A- … Ted Cruz
A- … Rand Paul
B+… Bobby Jindal
B  … Lindsey Graham
B  … Rick Perry
B  … Rick Santorum
B- … Ben Carson
B- … Donald Trump
C+… Carly Fiorina
C  … Mike Huckabee
C  … Marco Rubio
D+… Chris Christie
D+… Scott Walker
F  … Jeb Bush
F  … John Kasich

Full disclosure: I was a contributor for the report that accompanies the report card, but I did not determine the final grade.

The criteria used was:

  1. Whether the candidate recognizes the full scope of the Common Core issue and has advocated for, or taken, action that would roll back the Common Core education standards.
  2. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting, or taken steps to protect, state and local decision-making in the area of education, e.g., offered a plan to give states enforceable protection against USED overreach, to opt out of the USED, unwind USED as a whole, etc.
  3. Whether the candidate has advocated for protecting child and family privacy, for example by opposing improper gathering and use of data including student medical information and any information that would reflect a student’s psychological characteristics or behaviors.

They could have included more criteria and noted in the scorecard report, “Due to time constraints, we did not include categories that could rightly be included in a Common Core scorecard. Those include initiatives that expand government-funded early childcare and the alignment of education to a national workforce system. Those initiatives will require increased data collection. The latter one will also entail the continuation of federal efforts to shape state “workforce investment” efforts that are an affront to state sovereignty and capitalism and that treat children and adults as human capital–as a means to an end.”

They also explain the grading:

  • A  Champions the issue (e.g., offers legislation, makes it a centerpiece issue)
  • B  Professes support, but has not provided leadership or otherwise championed it
  • C  Has neither helped nor hurt the cause
  • D  Has an overall negative record on the issue
  • F  Robustly and consistently works against the issue

Below are excerpts of what was said about each candidate in the report:

Jeb Bush – F

Gov. Bush is perhaps the most outspoken supporter of the Common Core Standards in the 2016 field. He has publicly praised David Coleman, one of the two chief architects of the Common Core (who is now chairman of the College Board). He has propagated the false narrative that the Common Core standards are merely learning goals and are of high quality.91 He has turned a blind eye to the reasons underlying opposition to Common Core and instead used straw-man arguments to dismiss opponents as relying on “Alice-in- Wonderland logic.

Ben Carson – B-

As a non-office-holder, Carson is pretty much limited to speaking on the issues. He says the right things but has given no indication of a deep understanding of Common Core or the attendant problems.

Chris Christie – D+

We would look for Christie to lead the effort to replace the Common Core in New Jersey with good standards – not just a “review” leading to a rebrand – and to replace PARCC with an assessment aligned to the new standards. His statement, in a thinly veiled reference to Gov. Perry, that at least he tried Common Core is particularly troublesome.116 It indicates that he does not understand how the federal government interferes with state decision- making, does not appreciate the academic deficiencies of the Common Core, and does not understand why parents are upset.

Christie epitomizes “making a big issue into a small issue.” His website does not address Common Core and does not address his view as to the relationship between USED and the states on education. Does he think it is just fine? Does he think the states need structural protections? Does he want to eliminate USED? Perhaps make it bigger? These are campaign issues, and the people want to know.

Ted Cruz – A-

We encourage Sen. Cruz to spell out in greater detail his plans for reigning in the federal government, to talk about the nexus between Common Core’s quality and the perversion of our constitutional structure and to raise the issues with accurate specifics rather than to talk about “repealing” Common Core. Does Cruz have further proposals to safeguard state and local decision-making and protect parental rights? His website does not address the Common Core issues, does not say anything about student and family privacy, and does not address his views as to the relationship between the federal government and the states with regard to education.

Carly Fiorina – C+

Fiorina’s website states, “Government is rigged in favor of powerful interests. The only way to reimagine our government is to reimagine who is running it.” She would do well to address these issues more often and in more detail -especially given that the Common Core is being driven by the “powerful interests” that claim to serve the interests of the economy and business. Fiorina would do well to discuss the issue in more depth, to raise the qualitative problems, and to state whether she has any proposals to safeguard state decision-making.

Lindsey Graham – B

Graham seems to understand the issues with Common Core today, but it is unfortunate this opposition did not come sooner. He missed an early opportunity to strike at the Common Core in 2013 by not co-signing a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice-chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to prohibit the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, end the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium, and prevent the United States Department of Education from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core.

Mike Huckabee – C

Gov. Mike Huckabee has a checkered past on the issue of the Common Core. Once an ardent supporter of the system, he now claims that the original “governor-controlled states’ initiative” eventually “morphed into a frankenstandard that nobody, including me, can support.” However, as recently as 2013, Mike Huckabee told the Council of Chief State School Officers to “[r]ebrand [Common Core], refocus it, but don’t retreat.”

As the campaign approached, Huckabee began to be more consistent in his opposition (although he was still giving a nod to the supposedly pure origins of the Common Core).

Bobby Jindal – B+

Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core. But in 2014 he come out swinging against it, although he occasionally lapses into a narrative that it was the federal involvement that made it bad. He supported legislation to rid his state of Common Core. He has also sued USED in federal court on the grounds that the Department’s Race to the Top programs was coercive, violates federal law, and is contrary to the Constitution. Jindal stumbled out of the gate on Common Core, but he has righted himself and has admirably pushed back against the federal overreach.

John Kasich – F

Like Bush, Kasich is an unapologetic cheerleader for the Common Core. His only response to the large and active anti-Common Core grassroots operation in Ohio is to make fun of them.

Rand Paul – A-

Sen. Rand Paul supported Senator Grassley’s effort to defund the Common Core in 2013 and 2014. He co-signed a letter penned by Senator Chuck Grassley to the chair and vice- chair of the Senate Appropriations Sub-Committee on Education that called for language to be included prohibiting the use of federal funding to promote the Common Core, ending the federal government’s involvement in the Common Core testing consortium and preventing USED from rescinding a state’s No Child Left Behind waiver if it repealed Common Core. Sens. Paul and Cruz are the only senatorial candidates for president who co-signed Grassley’s letter.

Paul has paid more attention to the Common Core issue than most other candidates and has spoken forcefully against it.

Rick Perry – B

Gov. Rick Perry is one of the few candidates, declared or prospective, who has opposed the Common Core from the outset. As Governor, Rick Perry signed HB 462, which effectively banned the Common Core from being adopted in Texas…

…With regard to privacy, in 2013 Perry signed HB 2103, which created a data-sharing agency for educational data governed by an appointed board rather than the state educational agency. It appears that the data can only be shared within the state- with the exception of inter-state sharing with other state departments of education. Among other problems, it allows unfettered data-sharing among agencies designated as “cooperating agencies” –the Texas Education Agency, the state higher-ed authority, and the Texas Workforce Commission. It allows any researcher (no parameters on who is a legitimate researcher) to get data if he uses “secure methods” and agrees to comply with the ineffective federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). It requires each participating state agency to make data available for the preceding 20 years, and allows data-sharing agreements with “local agencies or organizations” that provide education services if “useful to the conduct of research.”

Marco Rubio – C

Sen. Marco Rubio has spoken strongly against Common Core and wrote a letter to Secretary Duncan in 2011 questioning the legality of using federal No Child Left Behind waivers to drive policy changes, like the adoption of Common Core, in the states…

…Rubio’s official website does not specifically address the issue of Common Core. However, it does states that in order to prepare people to “seize their opportunities in the new economy,” high schools should graduate more students “ready to work.” It is hard to parse from this general statement what the education policies would look like under a Rubio Administration. What does Rubio believe would validate a student as “work ready”? Would it be the further alignment of our K-12 education system to the projected demands of specific sectors of the economy to train workers for favored big-businesses, which would mean more of the Chamber of Commerce-endorsed Common Core? Or, does it mean aligning education to the demands of parents and the local community as a whole, which would mean more local control? It would behoove Senator Rubio to answer these questions and to discuss the qualitative aspects of the Common Core and whether he believes the federal involvement helped, or hurt, the quality of the standards.

Rick Santorum – B

Santorum’s website addresses the problem of Common Core in terms of both federal overreach and the substance of the standards. While many other candidates do the former, few address the latter…

…Although Santorum voted for No Child Left Behind when it passed the Senate in 2001, he has since described that vote as “a mistake.” We give a candidate credit for truly admitting a mistake.

Donald Trump – B-

Trump has struck a chord with the Republican base, something many would have thought unlikely a year ago. Citizens view him as having the courage and will to stand and fight, something that many GOP candidates have seemed to lack in years past. As the primary cycle wears on, the base will want to hear more detail from Trump as well as other candidates. The candidate who does this will engender the gratitude of parents and other citizens. Trump would do well to blaze the trail on this.

Scott Walker – D+

Until recently, Governor Walker’s rhetoric on Common Core has been good. He admits that, when he ran in 2010, it wasn’t on his radar and that’s certainly understandable given how the standards were pushed into the states. He rightly gives credit to the state’s citizens for making it an issue, something that may not seem like a big deal, but it is to activists who have been ridiculed as irrational by elitists in both parties…

Sometimes legislation gets watered down despite the intrepid efforts of its proponents. At other times, a nominal proponent gives it lip service but fails to fight and, thereby, actually signals that he will not raise an objection if the legislation is defeated or watered down. On the Common Core, Walker is in the latter category…

You can read the entire report below.

Rick Santorum Discusses Common Core

Former U.S. Senator and prospective 2016 candidate Rick Santorum met with a group of state legislators in Iowa and discussed education, his opposition to Common Core, and how those standards will not fix failing schools.

You can watch the video of his remarks here or below:

Transcription:

This also goes with the issue of Common Core which I know is a big issue in Iowa and a big issue for me.  I wrote a book called Blue Collar Conservatives where I talk about the importance of education.  Just in two books published that I talk about all of the time – one is from a guy from the far left named Robert Putnam, who wrote a book called Our Kids, he is a Harvard sociologist and is a liberal.    The other was written a few years ago by a guy named Charles Murray who is a libertarian from the American Enterprise Institute.  Those two books come to the same conclusion – that the principle problem of the hollowing out of America, the principle problem of children not achieving, the principle problem of us not being able to rise in the end and have the opportunity to pass centers around, primarily, the breakdown of the family.

And these are things that I was talking about, as you know, talking about the American family is the basic small business.  It is the first economic unit, and it is fractured.  And as a result what we are seeing is the left and the right coming together saying ‘we don’t know what to do about it’ and both basically concede that, but they realize that – and this Putnam saying this – if you come from a two parent family, from a neighborhood of two parent families and you go to schools in that community where most two-parent family kids go the chances of you succeeding are incredibly high in America and it doesn’t matter your race, color or creed.  They’re the same.  Let me repeat that they’re the same.  There is no racial differentiation if you come from that neighborhood.

Conversely if you come from a single parent family in a neighborhood of single parent families – that is important – you can be in a single parent family in a neighborhood where there is a mix, but if you come from a single parent family in a neighborhood of single parent families and the school is single parent families the chance, according to Putnam, the chance that you will rise to the top 20% of income earners, which is not the top 1%, the top 20% is 3%.  Now I don’t know about you, but that is something, if I’m a Republican, if I’m a conservative, if I’m an American that’s not good enough.  That’s just not good enough.

We need to do something about that.  It means stepping on some egg shells and saying, ‘you know what let’s start talking about the family, we need to start talking about what government is doing to hurt the family, what it is doing to help the family, what we can do as a community at large to try and help to reinvigorate this vitally important thing for our children.

Finally on education, I said that we don’t need Common Core.  I don’t know of any teacher in America who thinks that the reason we have drop out rates of 50% in our worst schools is because of education standards.  Education standards is not the problem in the schools that are failing.  The problem is that we do not have parents who are engaged with the education enterprise in their home and in schools.

I am as tough on public education as anybody, but I am sick and tired of the scapegoating of teachers and administrators as if it is their problem, and they’re the only reason schools are failing.  That is not true.  We all have to take and shoulder that responsibility.  We need to have an honest discussion about a revolution in education and the last thing that we need is elites in our culture telling us what should be taught in our schools.  What we need are parents to be fully engaged in that area, in every aspect, and begin to not just engage them, but talk about the importance of them for their children’s future and America’s future.

Who Discussed Common Core at Iowa Caucus Kickoff?

I have a piece up at Caffeinated Thoughts that highlights what five prospective candidates for the Republican nomination for President had to say about Common Core.  Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee all were at the Iowa Freedom Summit in Des Moines, IA on Saturday, and they discussed Common Core either from the stage or with me.

Check it out.

Rick Santorum Joins Fight Against Common Core

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Former U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum joined the fight against Common Core.  Yesterday through his 501(c)4 organization, Patriot Voices, he sent the following email:

It is clear that our country’s education system is not working.

Even those who created Common Core agree that our public education system is flawed, but the problem is that Common Core advocates decided the answer was more government control and intervention. They got it so wrong.

Join with Patriot Voices to stand up against Common Core and stand for parental control in our education system.

The federal government should not be involved in creating standards that are implemented by the state. Instead, parents, teachers, school districts and local communities should be making these important decisions for their children.

Fundamentally, the revolution that has to occur in education is one that has our children finishing school with both the values and the knowledge to work hard, serve their community and prosper in society. Those ideals won’t come from the federal government, Common Core, No Child Left Behind, or even from standards being set at the state level. It’s going to come from parents who have control over the education of their children.

In addition to the loss of parental and local control, the waste of millions of dollars and the move towards developing a nationalized curriculum, another troubling aspect of Common Core is the data mining effort. There are reports that each state must maintain a statewide data system that will keep records on students from pre-K through college. 

Instead of just fighting Common Core, we need a broader movement to put parents back in charge of the educational system. Fighting Common Core and other top-down education reforms is a good start in the right direction.

Join with Patriot Voices right now by standing against Common Core and standing up for parents rights’ in our education system.

Common Core is wrong for our kids, wrong for our schools and wrong for our country! Let’s fight together for parental control in education!

Sincerely,

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Rick Santorum

Photo by Dave Davidson – Prezography.com

Originally posted at Caffeinated Thoughts.

Rick Santorum Opposes and Would Repeal Race to The Top

In an interview I had with former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) on Monday we talked specifically about Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards.  He said that he opposes and would repeal all of the Obama education executive orders, including Race to the Top.

You can watch the entire interview here.

Rick Santorum Answers Education Question in Creston, IA

Eric Goranson of American Principles in Action’s Preserve Innocence Initiative was able to ask former Senator Rick Santorum his thoughts on the gold standard and the federal takeover of education during a Tea Party Bus Tour stop in Creston, IA.  You can find it at the 1:45 mark.

He seems to be talking around the issue, we fully agree that parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their children. He never really answered the question.

Candidates on Education: Rick Santorum

imageBack in February I had the opportunity to interview Rick Santorum for Caffeinated Thoughts. I asked him about what the Federal role in education should be and here is the transcript of that section of our interview:

SVH: “What role, if any, should the federal government have in education?”

Santorum: “Limited… I’m of the belief that the education system should be centered around serving the needs of… what am I going to say?”

SVH: Parents

Santorum: “Parents… that’s right, serving the needs of the parents. You don’t hear many politicians say that. They’ll say serving the needs of children. I don’t think the education system is there to serve the needs of children. They serve the needs of parents. … They do serve the needs of children through doing what the parents think is best for their children. Now there may be situations where there are no parents and the educational system has to serve in the place of a parent. But, where there are parents the educational system should engage parents in designing an educational experience for their children that suits their children.”

“We have a factory model of education that was created a 100 years ago and we haven’t changed it. The schools that we have are a result of the industrial revolution. Children weren’t educated this way. Why? Because it was an agrarian society, everyone had local schools with kids from all different ages that worked together and did things together. They had homeschoolers and everything else, but when people moved to the cities and into the factories with assembly lines.”

“So we went to assembly lines, we went to assembly lines for kids. We put them all in a factory, we divided them up into the same ages, and created an experience that is not like anything they are going to experience in the rest of the world – and the government took it over. The government runs the schools systems. It was local communities, but ever since it has been left up to the state and then the federal government. And what we need to do is get back to – not that we are lean and fast – we can customize, we can customize. Let’s go back to the 90s and talk about the technology revolution, we can go back prior to that.”

“We are talking about customized work here in an area that is vitally important – the lives of our future, the future of our country. Can we provide a customized educational experience for our children that is going to maximize their ability to succeed. And the federal government is an impediment to that, because the federal government wants to support the existing structure.”

SVH: “In your opinion, the federal government should or shouldn’t advance core curriculum standards?”

Santorum: “No. I mean I don’t think that is their role. I think that the federal government’s role, if there is any, as I would see it, is to get the school systems to focus on parent-centered education. And say that we’re going to back off all of these ‘this is how you have to this and this and this’ and say let’s just get to where every parent at the beginning of the school year, a couple months before the school year and sits down with the administrator or somebody and says ‘this is what we are going to do for your kids and the school system. We are going to take it plan by plan, and we are going to design the plan and that means if they are going to go to West Des Moines Elementary then that’s great. Because you know what? That may fit Suzy best.’ There may be a Christian school where Mom and Dad may think she’ll do better or homeschool where she’ll do better or Catholic school where she’ll do better. Then the responsibility for the school is to help you. There may be resources we can give you. There may be remedial programs…’ Design a program that fits. You may say, ‘well you can’t do that it’s just too complicated.’”

“No it’s not. No it’s not. What you’ll have is that you’ll have parents engaged and involved in their children’s education to a degree that you’ve never seen before which is vitally important. The problem is always laid on the schools and the teachers, it’s not. We have problems in the schools and with teachers, but there are problems in the family.”

SVH: “I was listening to an interview with our new education chief, to be education chief (he hasn’t been confirmed yet), Jason Glass and he was talking about testing standards and how you can almost take the testing standards and line them up to zip codes. It is typically in areas where there is definitely a poverty-stricken… issues with poverty.”

Santorum: “It’s not just a matter of book knowledge. Are you going to hire somebody… if you have to hire somebody who really has got a lot of book knowledge, but has poor character traits?”

SVH: “No.”

Santorum: “Who doesn’t work hard, who isn’t honest. School isn’t just about teaching kids ABCs, it’s more than that. And Parents know it is more than that. So if all we are going to do is measure book knowledge. We’re missing the boat.”

SVH: “My point with this was not so much the testing standards, but rather how to address this issue, because liberals will come at you and say ‘what about areas where there (are) single parents working two, three jobs to make ends meet and we need to come along side and help those parents.’”

Santorum: “Those parents want their kids to go to schools where they feel they can get their best chance. The D.C. Voucher program were almost all single parents, they all wanted their kids someplace where they thought they could thrive. We are talking about designing the program, customizing the program – We do this, we have IEPs for special needs kids. Every kid has special needs. There is no normal kid out there. Every kid has something special about them. And we need in a sense, not the extensive IEPs, but we do need to have individual plans for every kid in the school system and the parents have to be at the heart of it.”