Tuesday, January 08, 2008

GOP Candidates on School Choice

The Club for Growth (the ones who got in a tiff with Huckabee) actually did a full series of white papers on all the candidates' records and positions. School choice was one area surveyed, and here are their findings; most have shown support, though some more consistently than others.

Their introduction: "The Club for Growth supports broad school choice, including charter schools, voucher programs, and tax credits that create a competitive education market including public, private, religious, and non-religious schools. More competition in education can only lead to higher quality and lower costs."

Fred Thompson: ... a faithful supporter of school choice, arguing in 1995 "that our elementary and secondary educational systems need to be restructured ... [which] can be achieved by privatizing a major segment of the educational system" ... support for vouchers that are "universal, available to all parents, and large enough to cover the costs of a high-quality education." ... voted for a 1997 school voucher program in D.C. ... and pilot voucher programs in 1999 and 2001.

Mike Huckabee: ... record on school choice is mixed. On the one hand, he fought hard to protect the rights of parents to home school their children ... a vocal proponent of charter schools ... supported a proposal that would expand charter school eligibility ... signed legislation allowing charter schools to be established in Arkansas. On the other hand, ... is on record opposing voucher programs that allow poor students in failing public schools to attend private schools ... called No Child Left Behind "the greatest education reform effort by the federal government in my lifetime" .... [CFG] Update: As mentioned above, Huckabee's education proposals put greater emphasis on government intervention in the education system instead of calling for greater choice and competition. According to the Sioux City Journal, "Huckabee said he would make arts and music education tested curriculum and provide federal funds to do so."

Rudy Giuliani: ... became one of the country's leading advocates for a competitive education market. ... in 1995, opposed school vouchers ... by 1996, though, Mayor Giuliani began to have a change of heart ... by 1997 had created a widely popular program called the School Choice Scholarships Foundation ... and in 1999, made the leap to a self-proclaimed "prophet" of school choice, proposing a $12 million pilot school choice program even as his school chancellor threatened to quit over the matter. Giuliani even went so far as to argue that "the whole [school] system should be blown up, and a new one put in its place." ... also campaigned on behalf of charter schools, in the hopes of inspiring a "more innovative, performance-driven, entrepreneurial vision of schooling."

Mitt Romney: ... on record supporting charter schools, school vouchers, and home schooling ... charter school expansion rather than a voucher program ... He pushed to eliminate the state-mandated cap on the number of charter schools and successfully vetoed a moratorium on the opening of new charter schools. ... Once advocated abolishing the Department of Education but has since said he supports No Child Left Behind and has seen as a governor that "the Department of Education can actually make a difference."

John McCain: ... record on school choice is very good ... consistently supported school choice programs, voting for voucher programs in 1997, 1999, and 2001 ... eloquently argued that "our children deserve the best education we can provide to them, whether that learning takes place in a public, private, or parochial school. It's time to give middle- and lower-income parents the same right wealthier families have -- to send their child to the school that best meets their needs."

Ron Paul: the perfect is the enemy of the good ... opposition to school choice stems from his opposition to the government's role in education ... arguing that federal voucher programs are "little more than another tax-funded welfare program establishing an entitlement to a private school education." ... He consistently voted against voucher programs ... but supported education tax breaks and introduced the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 612) that provides all parents with a tax credit of up to $3,000, available to parents who choose to send their children to public, private, or home school. ... his votes are a direct impediment to achieving high-quality school choice ... aligning himself with Democrats and the NEA in opposing progress towards a market-based education system ...

UPDATE: I'm not tracking the Democratic positions generally. Club for Growth does even bother to separate them, heading their report "One of These Candidates Is Not Like The Other", but here are their highlights of the Democratic side on school choice:

When it comes to school choice, all four Democratic candidates have the same plan: less choice, more federal government. ... talk about the need to help low-income students trapped in failing public schools, ... [but] reject the one education reform that can actually help ... All have voted against or publicly opposed school choice programs, proposed increasing federal money in education ... and called for universal preschool.

No comments: