Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)
Photo credit: Dave Davidson (Prezography.com)

(Des Moines, IA) During the Presidential Family Forum last Friday evening there were three candidates who addressed the topic of education.

Frank Luntz asked U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) about it first, and Rubio responded:

I agree that our K-12 system in America is deficient and it is not preparing kids to compete in the 21st century, but it really isn’t the role of the federal government to run the K through 12 system that belongs to state and local communities. That’s why we don’t need Common Core, and quite frankly that is why we don’t need a Department of Education.

I do think as the biggest payer of higher education we do have a vested interest in what higher education is promoting. We need to reexamine and, quite frankly, modernize what higher education means in the 21st century.

For starters it means more career and vocational training; some of the best paying jobs of the 21st century require more than traditional high school, but less than a four-year college, and at some point in our history we started telling kids that trade school was for the kids who were not smart enough to go to college.  Well, that isn’t true. Trade school is for kids who at 18-years-of-age want to make $50,000 as a welder, as an airplane mechanic, as a car technician, and we should be training people to do that.  We should be opening up federal financial aid, not that they should have to wait until they are 18 to use a Pell Grant, they should be allowed to use at 16 and 17 to go to high school in the morning and trade school in the afternoon so when they graduate they won’t just get a high school diploma, they are industry certified and ready to work because there are good paying jobs in these careers and we are not training people to do it.

Luntz asked a follow-up question about how some communities are failing and states differ from one another in quality of education.  He said, “aren’t kids suffering as a result?”

Rubio responded:

The answer to that is you better get better state legislators, better school board members, a better governor, because it is the local government… If you put the federal government in charge of K through 12 education you are not going to be happy with the result. Because that means you are going to have to go to Washington, DC and try to influence some unelected, unaccountable bureaucrat at the Department of Education. That means you have to travel to Washington, DC to get Congress to pay attention and they are only going to make it worse.

I honestly, truly and fully believe that it constitutionally belong at the state and local level, but you will get better results when the people making those K through 12 decisions are the people closest to our people and I will make one more point.

Schools are important – the teach kids how to read, how to write and these sorts of things, but many of the issues we face in our country go back to the fact – something that was mentioned earlier – the family is breaking down, the family is the most important school our children will ever attend. Because no one is born with the right values, no one, values have to be taught to you and they can only be taught in stable families so if you look at academic and ultimately economic underperformance in America today there is a direct correlation between that and the break down of the American family.

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) was asked by Luntz who is going to fight for kids who are trapped in failing public schools and can’t afford to go to private schools.

Santorum replied:

I want to go back to what Marco just said because the numbers, your stats back them up. There was just a survey done of marriage rates in states and economic success. It turns out that the states that have the best marriage rates have the best economies. It also correlates that states that have the highest marriage rates have the best schools, and what Marco was saying was absolutely right. If you talk to any parent, any teacher, any administrator or anyone in the school system and you ask them the biggest problem and it is not Common Core curriculum, it is not computers and labs, it is the fact that many children are coming into the school system not willing, able or prepared to learn, and not having supportive families to help the schools.

The breakdown of the family is breaking everything down. It is breaking our economy down, it is breaking our schools down, it is breaking our culture down. Unfortunately we don’t have any leaders in this country, or very darn few of them, who are willing to stand up and willing to be politically incorrect, and stand up and fight for the institutions and traditions that are important for these children to have a better life.

I encourage you to read a book, I don’t often cite liberal Harvard professors, but Robert Putnam’s book Our Kids read it.  Read the first few chapters at least that describe growing up in Port Huron, Ohio when he was a kid in the 1950s and then growing up today, and what it was like to grow up poor in 1950 and yet all of those kids, every one of them did well, why? Because they came from stable families or at least from neighborhoods where there were dads.

Today, there are no dads. There are no stable families and look at the lives of children that we say “it’s just ok, we can’t talk about this because we don’t want to pass any moral judgments down.”

We are so afraid to offend anybody that we won’t fight for the lives of our children. Ladies and gentlemen we need a President who is willing to go up and challenge the American public to rebuild a culture of marriage and family in America. If you want to fix education, you can abolish all of the education departments you want, but you have to do something about the child entering into that school. You want to help teachers, help parents, stabilize the family so children can come to school prepared to learn.

Then give the power, I always say who is the customer of the education system? People always say, “oh the kids.” No, parents.  Why? Because it is parents’ responsibility to educate the children. If parents have the responsibility they should be given the power. They should be given the power within the public schools or whatever other school they have to be able to give the child whatever the parent believes is the best education available for that child. That’s my mission statement as President of the United States.

Luntz asked former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee what should be done in education noting that Republicans often say what shouldn’t be done. “Because it is too late when a child is eight-years-old and there is not father in the house, but still has 10 years in school.  It’s too late for some of these schools in the inner city of Chicago where kids are getting blown away by other children. What should be done?”

Huckabee responded:

I want to echo what Marco and Rick said because it is about understanding that the federal government can not properly education children. Rick was exactly right when he talked about the role of parents. Why is it that homeschool kids do better than kids from any other academic background? Because it is the intense involvement of the mother and father in that child’s education that is unsurpassed in any other educational form.

The only kid in Arkansas who ever scored a perfect score on the SAT exam was a homeschool girl whose father, by the way, worked for me. He worked in the Human Services department and it completely embarrassed the educational establishment in our state because a homeschool kid wasn’t supposed to do that.

So one thing the federal government could do is not fight homeschooling, is not fight parent’s choices to educate their kids in the best way for them, and to fight for marriage and to fight for stable families. One thing I think I would like to see the President fight for the right of families to be involved in their kids schools.

There is a case right now in East Tennessee that should make every Christian believer in this country absolutely livid. It is the Remeike family. They came here from Germany seeking asylum because they were going to have their kids taken away from them in Germany because they home schooled their kids in Germany. Germany wouldn’t allow it, and the German government was going to take the kids from their very stable, very solid, Christian home.

So the Remeike family took asylum to America where they would be able to educate their kids at home. Their kids are doing great, I’ve met their kids, and this week, the Justice Department of the United States started the deportation process against the Remeike family to send them back to Germany which will take their kids from them.

The very week the President wants to bring Syrian refugees to America and import them, he wants to deport a Christian family. If you do not believe that there is a war on the Christian faith in this country, that is being carried out by this administration, look no further than the education system because it is happening in our country, and the President may not take the responsibility of educating the kids K through 12 and coming up with the curriculum, but by gosh he ought to have an attorney general who will fight for mother and father to have the right to educate their children in the best way for them.

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