(Urbandale, IA) Former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee held a meet and greet focused on homeschooling families at Lifehouse Community Church in Urbandale on Tuesday night. Approximately 70 men, women and children were able to meet with and ask questions of Huckabee whose success in the 2008 Iowa Caucus based partly based on widespread support within the homeschooling community in Iowa.
Because the meeting was focused on homeschoolers, Huckabee wanted to address education.
“One of the questions I get asked a lot of times is, ‘as President what would you do about education?’ I think people are surprised by what my first response is, as President there is not much I would do about education because education is not a federal responsibility,” Huckabee stated.
“I don’t think the federal government should be getting involved in the decisions that you as a family need to make first and foremost about education. In the state of Iowa if your state law puts education at the forefront then that is where is should be. If it is local school boards in partnership with the state that’s fine, but ultimately education decisions, even in a state, still are ultimately the responsibility, first and foremost, with Mom and Dad. Because really the number one, I think, center of education is the home,” Huckabee shared.
“Most of us before we show up to a formal education if we should go to a public school or a private school assuming we are not homeschooled, every form of education really begins in our own homes. That is where we learn to share, that is where we learn basic manners, that is where we learn to wait our turn. It’s where we learn there is a schedule that we have to meet… Education is ultimately a mom and dad decision because it is the home which is the foundational institution that God created, of all of the institutions that God honors, that God created that we have as a part of our overall society the most important one is still our family, our home. It is there if even a kid goes on to public school or any other form of education the primary, basic, fundamental lessons of his or her life are still going to be the ones learned at home,” Huckabee added.
Huckabee acknowledged the sacrifice involved with homeschooling, “Many of you made a very major decision. You made the decision to education your children at home, as Mom and Dad, you are not only the mother and the father, but you are also the teacher, and I always believed there are very few sacrifices a parent can make that are as great as the sacrifice of homeschooling.”
Huckabee noted he was the first governor to appoint a homeschooling parent on a state school board because he believed homeschooling families should have a voice.
“I felt that homeschooling parents were not being given an adequate voice in the entire discussion of education. As governor we fought to relax any type of restrictions or any type of requirements on the part of parents because, quite frankly, the state really had no reason to want to legislate and regulate homeschool parents. They weren’t our responsibility, they weren’t our problem. We had more to say grace over with the public schools and yet there were times when people within the public community and especially on the left who wanted the state to have a bigger role in regulating home schools. Well that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me so one of the ways I was able to fight that was to put a homeschool parent on the state board,” Huckabee explained.
Huckabee addressed education policy.
“The three things that I think is important whether it is homeschool, public school or private school, and that is you have the highest possible standards. You never want to dumb down an educational standard, lift up the standards make it so it is challenging and rigorous. The second thing is you want to measure. You want to find out are we hitting the standards, are we making progress, and the third thing is that you have accountability. In the case of homeschooling, accountability is mom and dad saying are we doing a good job. In the public schools it is whether or not these kids are actually they are performing and whether they are achieving according to the standard,” Huckabee shared.
Huckabee addressed the controversial Common Core State Standards.
“I know there is a bunch of people who would say ‘let’s not have a bunch of testing.’ I would agree that it can easily morph into over-testing which is one of the reasons Common Core has become such a disastrous failure because it ultimately devolved down into a testing game rather than just setting the standards in math and English language arts,” Huckabee stated. “But for the same reason we keep score at a football game there has to be some measurement, and you measure in a homeschool environment every day, and you measure as to whether or not your student is ready to meet the next grade level, one of the things that has always amazed me is that most homeschool students do so much better than do most of the kids in the public schools because they are not on a strict academic calendar, and the student progress at the level he is achieving rather than waiting to go at the speed of the slowest people in the class.”
Huckabee touched on Common Core again during the Q&A time.
“One of the reasons I believe Common Core has become such a monstrous failure, and most states have now abandoned it, and for good cause because what started out to be a way to keep the federal government out of education became a way in which the federal government got way too involved in education, and it has been disastrous. There has been such an expansion, which originally Common Core was the states, not the federal government had nothing to do with it. States were going to create standards in two areas – math and language arts, and it was mainly so the students who moved from one state to the other there would be some semblance of comparable standards a student would face in those areas. It had nothing to do with curriculum, there was nothing whatsoever to do with curriculum, and certainly nothing with things such as data collection. Over a period of time, especially when the federal government decided hey this is a great trojan horse for us to get in the middle of we can go right into education, we can expand it into other topics, we can expand it into designing what the curriculum looks like and tie funding to it, and get data collected on students,” Huckabee explained.
Several states have simply changed the name of their standards, while others like Indiana and Florida have added some additional standards simply creating Common Core +. Activists in those states have balked at talk of “rebranding” standards rather than repealing and replacing them.
What Huckabee calls Common Core is actually referring to the American Diploma Project. Caffeinated Thoughts reported in January:
Caffeinated Thoughts asked former Arkansas Governor and 2008 Iowa Caucus winner Mike Huckabee about his statement, “I hate what Common Core has become” and wanted the Governor to clarify what he actually liked originally.
Huckabee pointed to American Diploma Project led by Achieve, Inc. that laid the foundation for the Common Core State Standards. In 1996 the National Governors Association and a number of business leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in order to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments and strengthen accountability in all 50 states.
“The only thing I liked before is when it was a state-controlled, specific standards of two things – language arts and math. Which was the outgrowth of the Achieve movement back in the mid 90s that a number of people were involved in, expressly to keep the federal fingers off of education. I have been very clear that I have been utterly opposed to what Common Core is. I’ve said again in my book, I’ve said it on television, I’ve said it on radio, I’ve written about it repeatedly,” Huckabee stated.
According to Achieve, the American Diploma Project college-and-career-ready benchmarks defined the knowledge and skills in English and mathematics that all students must acquire in high school in order to meet the challenges awaiting them on college campuses and in the workplace. “The ADP Core has become the ‘common core’ as a byproduct of the alignment work in each of the states,” Achieve wrote in their 2008 report Out of Many One: Toward Rigorous Common Core Standards form the Ground Up.
Achieve, Inc. wrote the Common Core State Standards in 2009 using the ADP Core as an initial framework and then expanded it. ADP, like the Common Core State Standards Initiative, was a private-public partnership that lacked a state legislative grant of approval.
“It is one of the most controversial, universally hated, ideas in education that has come along in my lifetime. Interestingly enough people on the left hate it just as much as people on the right. It is universally loathed, especially by parents, and maybe the only people who hate it more than parents are teachers. My sister virtually retired after 34-years of teaching because she was (frustrated) with Common Core stuff they were forcing on her as a school teacher in Arkansas. So I believe it is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to homeschooling. There are a lot of parents who have been utterly frustrated with what has been forced onto their children in the public school environment because of Common Core and decided to homeschool,” Huckabee added.
Watch his remarks and the Q&A session below:
Huckabee also spoke to the media after his event.