The Republican presidential debate in Florida last week offered the clearest sign yet that the GOP field is united on K-12 policy: The candidates all want the federal government out of the picture.
Nearly all the candidates at the Orlando, Fla., debate said education should be a local issue. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said the best way to tackle problems in K-12 schools is to “localize, localize, localize.” Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, said he wanted to “dramatically shrink” the U.S. Department of Education. Rep. Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, said, she’d “go over to the federal Department of Education. I’d turn off the lights, I’d lock the door, and I’d send all the money back to the states and localities.”
The highlight was a heated exchange on the federal Race to the Top program between Gov. Rick Perry of Texas and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, considered the front-runners.
Mr. Perry accused Mr. Romney of being the only person on stage in favor of “Obama’s Race to the Top. ... Being in favor of the Obama Race to the Top. That is not conservative.”
Gov. Romney said: “Education has to be held at the local and state level, not at the federal level. We need to get the federal government out of education.”
But Mr. Romney added that he thinks Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is going in the right direction by measuring teacher effectiveness and getting rid of teachers who aren’t performing well.
A version of this article appeared in the September 28, 2011 edition of Education Week as GOP Candidates Line Up to Slam Education Dept.