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Republican Presidential Candidates on Education Policy

The race for the Republican nomination in the 2012 general election is underway, and (if one hasn’t already) a GOP primary election is coming to a state near you. The four candidates have taken clear positions on domestic policies like job creation and government reform, and have been equally vocal about their plans for the future of American education. As a teacher, the decisions made by these potential presidential candidates at the federal level could influence where you teach, what you teach, who you teach, your salary and even how your performance is assessed. Therefore, it behooves you as an educator to be well-informed about the candidates’ policies in general, but it is especially important to be in the know about their educational plans. Here’s our run-down of the four remaining GOP candidates, highlighting their educational policies:
Republicans Presidential Candidates on Education

Photo by Iowa Politics

Governor Mitt Romney With an eye towards America’s competitiveness in the global economy, the former governor of Massachusetts has championed the fight to revamp the American educational system in hopes of training a new generation of American entrepreneurs, thinkers and workers. Despite his previously expressed statements to the contrary, Romney has said that he would not (like some of his adversaries) eliminate the Department of Education. In addition, he has championed the cause for creating quality-based incentives for teachers in order to improve performance.
Breakdown:
  • Believes that a crucial role of government in producing economic growth is making sure that students get the best education possible
  • Supports a means-tested voucher program that would allow students to attend the public or private school of their choice
  • Opposes the teaching of creationism in science classrooms, but stresses that “Family Values” deserve a larger place in the curriculum
  Speaker of the U.S. House of Representative Newt Gingrich Newt Gingrich has long been a fixture of conservative politics and has come to embody many of its principles in his educational policies. Like his competitors, Gingrich would dramatically shrink the role of the Department of Education, putting more power in the hands of state and local legislators. He supports a system like Pell Grants for K-12 education and sees the value of protecting the rights of those who choose to home school their children (i.e. making sure that these students receive access to tax-payer funded extracurriculars). He advocates establishing a “no-limits” charter system, which would streamline the creation of more and better charter schools. Gingrich also believes parents should have the right to choose which school they send their children to and that they should never be forced into sending their children to a failing institution. Breakdown:
  • Wants states to open channels for part-time teachers, ideally talented and established professionals, to come and teach students while also holding another job
  • Would keep the Department of Education, but would get rid of virtually all of its regulatory restrictions
  • Suggests that students who graduate early should be refunded their tax money in the form of college tuition grants
  Congressman Ron Paul With a passionate following, Paul has become something of a folk hero to his constituents. Like some of his competitors, he believes that the Department of Education is inefficient and that American students would be best served if there was more decision-making made on the state, local or family level. Breakdown:
  • Opposes ideas like school vouchers, seeing them as little more than another “tax-funded welfare program”
  • Argues that parents should be provided more resources to effectively educate their children at home
  • Believes that education is not a right, instead it must be earned
  Senator Rick Santorum Rick Santorum holds that education is the consumer’s responsibility, namely the parent’s. He believes that it is a parents right to directly influence the type of education their child is receiving, whether through local educational governance or home schooling. By “putting parents first,” Santorum believes that you actually have the students’ best interest in mind. He believes that severely limiting the federal role in governing American education and providing as much choice as possible to the consumer/parent are the ways to reshape and fix the current educational system. Breakdown:
  • Values the power of online learning, having enrolled his children in the Pennsylvania virtual school
  • Believes that creationism should be taught alongside theories of evolutionary biology
  • Holds that states should be able to make core standards for their education system, but should not be forced to adopt standards that are put forth by the federal government