GOP White House Hopefuls on Keeping or Scrapping the Ed. Dept.

By Alyson Klein — November 03, 2015 2 min read
Republican presidential candidates, from left, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul take the stage for the marquee debate at the University of Colorado at Boulder Oct. 28.
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Education issues barely moved the needle in the most recent Republican presidential candidates’ debates, held at the University of Colorado at Boulder, last week. Aside from a few passing references to career and technical education, gun-free zones around schools, vouchers, and a question involving student loan debt, the 14 GOP candidates—split into two groups, based on polling numbers—steered clear of detailed K-12 discussion.

In the meantime, Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog looked at where the candidates stand on what’s been a conservative rallying cry for decades: the possibility of eliminating the U.S. Department of Education. Here’s a roundup.

Scrap Department (or Consider It)

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas: Has said repeatedly that if he’s elected, he would like to abolish the U.S. Department of Education.

Carly Fiorina, former Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO: Named the Education Department as an agency she would consider eliminating in an interview in October with MSNBC.

Lower-polling GOP candidates Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, George Pataki, and Lindsey Graham line up for their debate earlier that night.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: Has called for getting rid of the Education Department.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky: Has said repeatedly that if he’s elected, he’ll move to scrap the Education Department.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida: Said at a campaign stop in September that he “honestly think[s] we don’t need an Education Department.” Some of its functions—like overseeing the student loan program—could be transferred to other agencies.

Donald Trump, Real Estate Mogul: Said last month on “Fox News Sunday” that he’d consider getting rid of the department.

Slim It Down

Ohio Gov. John Kasich: Has called for overhauling the department so that it just operates four major block grant programs, but doesn’t appear to want to get rid of the agency entirely.

Put a Twist on It

Ben Carson, Neurosurgeon: Hasn’t called for eliminating the Education Department. But he has proposed a new role for it: Monitoring institutions of higher education for political bias.

No Explicit Proposal

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush: Hasn’t floated the possibility of eliminating the department, but does think states should be a major engine of education redesign.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: His education platform has emphasized steps like revamping teacher tenure and expanding charter schools, not getting rid of the Education Department.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: Hasn’t talked much about eliminating the Education Department in years. But back in the 1990s, he was on the House education committee when it tried to dismantle the department.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal: Has focused on school choice and opposition to Common Core State Standards, not on eliminating the department.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki: Also opposes the common core, but doesn’t appear to have called for eliminating the Education Department.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum: Has taken aim at the common core, not getting rid of the Education Department.

Assistant Editor Andrew Ujifusa contributed to this story.
A version of this article appeared in the November 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as Keep the Ed. Dept., or Scrap It? Where GOP Hopefuls Stand


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