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Exclusive Videos: 13 Things We Learned About How Six Top GOP Candidates Would Shape K-12 Education

By Carolyn Phenicie | November 23, 2015

Photo: Getty Images
Since this website’s launch in July, The Seventy Four has aimed to elevate education news as front page news every day. The same holds true for the 2016 presidential election, as we’ve set out to cover and spotlight the K-12 education platforms of the top candidates. (Be sure to check out our detailed bipartisan “presidential baseball cards,” that offer a candidate-by-candidate overview of education priorities and agendas.)
Polls show voters (particularly those who live in battleground states) care a great deal about education — not that you’d learn anything about education platforms from the debates that have been televised thus far. Other than one question about Common Core in the first four GOP debates and some oblique references to education as a civil rights issue in one of Democrats’ two, there has been a notable lack of discussion about the country’s K-12 schools.
But education finally took center stage at the New Hampshire Education Summit in late August, a forum sponsored by the American Federation for Children and hosted by The Seventy Four. (Read our complete coverage of the event). Campbell Brown sat down for in-depth K-12 policy discussions with Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Chris Christie and John Kasich (as well as Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker, who have since withdrawn from the presidential race). You can search and filter the day’s conversations in this interactive video (Click here for a full-size version of the video):

Two months later, Brown sat down for additional education interviews with Ben Carson and Marco Rubio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Below are the complete videos, and key takeaways, from these K-12 conversations with the GOP contenders:
1. Jeb Bush: State-Driven Standards, Test-Driven Accountability
“States ought to drive this. There should be no federal involvement in curriculum, content or standards.” “We should be all in on [testing for accountability.’ When we neglect that, the kids that are left behind are the kids in poverty; African-American kids, Hispanic kids, and then we blame it on the social circumstances of their life. And that is what a former president called the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations,’ and we should reject that out of hand.” (Read our full report on Bush’s New Hampshire remarks)

 

2. Ben Carson: Death to Common Core, Home-Schooling Is the Best Schooling
“I am generally hoping that [common core] will die a quiet death.” “We know that the very best education is home school. The next is private school, the next is charter schools, and the last is public schools. If we want to change that dynamic, we have to offer some real competition to the public schools.” (Read our full report on Carson’s Milwaukee remarks)

 

3. Chris Christie: Negotiating With Unions, Abandoning Common Core
“As an elected official, I still have an obligation to work with [the unions]. If I’m president of the United States and Randi Weingarten is still the president of the AFT…then you can bet I’m going to try and work with her and here’s what she’s going to know: It won’t be easy but I’ll be fair.” “Three constituencies in my state hate common core: teachers, parents, students. I stuck with it, I fought for a while against those constituencies…I did what I think you’re supposed to do when you lead: Something that looks like a good idea, you give it a try. If it does not work you can’t be worried about somebody asking you a gotcha question…when something doesn’t work that we try, we then have to change it.” (Read our full report on Christie’s New Hampshire remarks)  

 

4. Carly Fiorina: Fostering Local Innovation, Bucking Education’s Special Interests
“One of the greatest things about our nation is our diversity…one of our great assets as a nation is our diversity, our ingenuity, our creativity. I am not at all troubled that a school in rural Alabama may choose to fulfill its children’s potential by giving them a great education differently than an urban school in Manhattan.” “What doesn’t work are big bureaucratic programs from Washington, D.C. What doesn’t work are people spending money on mandated programs, either at the state or federal level…[programs like common core that are] being overly influenced by companies that have something to gain, testing companies and textbook companies.” (Read our full report on Fiorina’s New Hampshire remarks)

 

5. John Kasich: Replicating Ohio Turnarounds, Driving Parent Engagement
“The Youngstown [Ohio] schools have basically been in a failure mode for nine years. And I had been warning people in Youngstown that this is not tolerable. But it is very hard to get a community together to reform local schools…We now have created something that the country should look at. If our schools fail for three straight years there is a committee than can come together to appoint a CEO in charge of those schools to start to get them improved and as the schools improve we hand them back to the local school board…we don’t tolerate long periods of failure any more in Ohio.” ““For parents, just don’t walk into the school building and just listen to what the administrators tell you. Dig in. Know how kids are performing, know how they’re doing, know what the heck is going on in the classroom.” (Read our full report on Kasich’s New Hampshire remarks)

 

6. Marco Rubio: School Choice as Moral Issue, Abolishing the DOE, How Unions Have Bought the Democrats
“Allowing parents to become the ultimate and final arbiter on where their kids are getting an education is for me deeply empowering. Most Americans have that choice because they’re rich or they move to a better neighborhood. But low-income parents do not, and that’s in my mind wrong. It’s immoral that the only people in America who have no control over where their kids go to school are low-income parents.” “The federal government has a long tendency and a long history of sending dollars down as a suggestion and then ultimately becoming a mandate with not strings attached, [but] chains attached and ropes.” “The Democratic party relies heavily on contributions and support from teacher unions around the country who quite frankly are one of the biggest impediments to educational reform in this country, and so [Hillary Clinton] is a captive of that. They’ve taken over the Democratic Party’s educational agenda.” (Read our full report on Rubio’s Milwaukee remarks.)

 

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