Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is running for president, and he brings a history of being skeptical of standardized tests to the 2020 campaign.
The Texas Democrat, who announced his candidacy Thursday, doesn’t have an extensive record on education policy from his time in Congress, but he has announced a few positions that will probably sound good to many educators and teachers’ unions.
O’Rourke has criticized what he calls a heavy emphasis on “arbitrary, high-stakes” testing in education, and said, “I want to make sure that we have the backs of those teachers and allow them to teach to the child and not to the test.” He voted in favor of the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, which maintains the annual testing regimen from the No Child Left Behind Act but barred the federal government from having a hand in teacher evaluations.
He’s also opposed vouchers, saying on the website for his unsuccessful Senate campaign last year that, “No public tax dollars should be given to private schools.” He also wants additional funding for “underserved” communities.
And O’Rourke has spoken out against laws that discriminate against students based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
You can learn more about O’Rourke’s views on education in the video below; in one segment, he bemoans that children at a Texas school have to read an abridged version of The Odyssey (one of his favorite books) because too much classroom time had to be set aside for test prep. He also highlights a Texas teacher who said that if Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos cut public school funding and redirected that money to create vouchers, “There would be hell to pay.”
Photo: Beto O’Rourke speaks during the general session at the Texas Democratic Convention on June 22, 2018, in Fort Worth, Texas. (Richard W. Rodriguez/AP)