Education is still taking a backseat to ... pretty much every other issue out there in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
But there have been some interesting moments lately:
•In one of two debates over the weekend, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who was just one of a handful of lawmakers to vote against the NCLB law back in 2001, chided former Sen. Rick Santorum for voting in favor of it. Paul called the law a “doubling” of the size of the U.S. Department of Education. Santorum has since backed off his pro-NCLB stance, telling CNN that his vote was a mistake.
• Santorum also recently said Obama’s push to get more kids to go to college amounts to “snobbery.” Being an auto-mechanic is a perfectly good, good paying job, he said.
(Politics K-12 fact check: Being an auto-mechanic does require some heavy-duty technical training, which can be completed during high school or as a post-secondary career. The Obama administration has called for students to be “college-and-career” ready, which would presumably include kids who want to pursue high-skills technical careers.)
•Former Gov. Mitt Romney said last week that, as president, he’d veto legislation that would give undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a path to citizenship, as long as they enroll in college or in the military.
The legislation, known as the DREAM Act, failed to pass in Congress even when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate. It’s unlikely to be ready for a presidential signature anytime soon. But the politics here could prove interesting. The DREAM Act could create a “wedge” issue in the race, if the general election comes down to Obama and Romney. Will Hispanic voters, a key demographic in a number of swing states, be reluctant to support Romney if he opposes it?
• The mayor of Manchester, N.H., gave Romney credit for fighting the Obama administration on NCLB’s testing requirements. Really? Romney has recently talked about giving more control over education to states, but he’s always made it clear he’s a fan of standardized tests. In fact, it’s a huge theme of the education chapter in his book.
•Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman published an editorial in the Concord Monitor last week in which he calls for both more support for the Common Core State Standards Initiative and greater local control.
•Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wrote an editorial for the Washington Post on No Child Left Behind that is basically a commercial for his administration’s waiver plan. He also says he wants to see a “bipartisan” rewrite of the law, which would appear to be a veiled swipe at House Republicans, who wrote a GOP-only draft bill. Okay, fine, that has nothing to do with the primary, but it’s still interesting.
•Speaking of No Child Left Behind, EdWeek has a series of commentaries published on the topic, in honor of the law’s 10th anniversary.