By guest blogger Lauren Camera. This post originally appeared on Politics K-12.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., an ardent supporter of school choice policies, spoke at the National Urban League’s annual conference in Cincinnati on Friday morning, where he called for an education system that allows parents to choose what schools are best for their children.
Here’s what he had to say:
They say education is the great equalizer, but all schools aren't equal. Many of the large schools in our cities are functioning with low standards. Many of the schools have become dropout factories. Some schools lack discipline and are unsafe. I saw the status quo is unacceptable. But Washington has no clue how to fix this problem. Washington has no clue how to fix education. Washington doesn't know whether you're a good teacher or a bad teacher. We should allow innovation to occur at the local level. I propose that we allow school charters, school choice, vouchers, competition. Competition breeds excellence and encourages innovation. And boy, we really need innovation. My kids went to great public schools. I went to great public schools. The president's kids go to great private schools. There are a lot of choices out there. I want to make it where all Americans get the option of choosing the best schools for their kids."
Paul’s points about school choice and inequality are not new for him. By and large, they are policies he’s been espousing since he was elected to the Senate in 2010. But they do illuminate what will likely be the education platform of his 2016 presidential campaign, should he decide to run.
It’s worth pointing out that, Paul, who sits on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, has upped his focus on school choice policies lately. He’s teamed up with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., top Republican on the HELP Committee, to push proposals that would allow Title I dollars to follow students to the school of their choice, even a private school.
And more recently, at an education roundtable at a Catholic school in Chicago in April, Paul said Title I funds, which are federal dollars allocated to public schools serving low-income students, are being sent to school districts that “may not be deserving” of the investment.
Paul’s focus on limiting the role of the federal government is just one of his many tea party-aligned political sensibilities that will be on display should he throw his name into the presidential-hopeful ring.
A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.