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Gingrich to Throw His Hat in Presidential Ring

By Alyson Klein — May 09, 2011 1 min read
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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has signaled he’s planning to run for president.

Folks probably think of Gingrich as the firebrand speaker of the 1990s, not as an education policy wonk. But he’s actually got quite a record on K-12 as a major champion of the Education Equality Project, which was co-founded by Joel I. Klein, the former New York schools chancellor, and Rev. Al Sharpton.

You can read the group’s ideas here. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan supported its mission back when he was Chicago schools’ chief.

Basically, the underlying idea is the “No Excuses” approach to education policy. Schools should be on the hook for improving student performance even if the majority of the students are from families living in poverty.

Gingrich and Sharpton took their strange-bedfellows show on the road and got big standing ovations at both the 2008 GOP convention, and at an event kicking off the inauguration of President Barack Obama. The duo also did a multi-city tour.

But, before Gingrich was Mr. No Excuses, he was Mr. Let’s Get Rid of the Department of Education. In fact, back in 1995, he called for scrapping the Education Department, an idea that is back in vogue, particularly with tea-party conservatives.

We still don’t know exactly which tack Gingrich will take when runs for president, or how important education will be to his campaign trail message.

From left, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Rev. Al Sharpton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, meet with reporters outside the White House in Washington, on May 7, 2009, following a meeting with President Barack Obama on education reform.
Ron Edmonds/AP-File

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