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GOP presidential contenders want federal govt. to scale back its K-12 influence

The GOP presidential candidates and Florida Republicans disagree on many issues, but they mostly agree that K-12 education policies should be designed at the local level and that the federal government should play a limited role.

According to Education Week:

The Republicans running for president may be working to stand out from the pack on some issues, but it already appears that most of the nine current candidates are largely united when it comes to K-12 policy: They want to dramatically shrink the federal role.

Some candidates, including Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas, are outspoken in saying they want to see the U.S. Department of Education scrapped.

Mitt Romney talks about jobs, health care, fiscal responsibility — issues that Rick Perry lists, adding national security. Michele Bachmann also addresses affordable energy and not increasing the debt ceiling. Newt Gingrich adds protecting life and religious liberty to the list of issues. But all of their campaign websites say nothing on education.

Herman Cain, the recent winner of the Florida straw poll, touts leadership of local municipalities, school choice and expanding school voucers and charter schools, while limiting the “federal government’s control over” education.

Ron Paul limits his campaign website education comments to the importance of home-schooling.

Education Week adds that Perry and Romney “are more nuanced on some education issues but have pumped up their rhetoric around getting the federal government out of schools.” The publication highlights the fact that ”nearly every candidate is largely disparaging” of the No Child Left Behind Act, which “became the centerpiece of GOP President George W. Bush’s domestic legacy.”

According to the Florida Department of Education, No Child Left Behind ”recognizes what truly makes a difference in providing a quality education. It calls for a highly qualified teacher in the core subjects in every classroom; the use of proven, research-based instructional methods; and timely information and options for parents. Schools that underperform are held accountable, providing their students with free tutoring or transfer to a better performing public school.”

Former Gov. Jeb Bush has led education reform based on standardized testing, accountability, teacher merit pay, school choice and charter schools through his Foundation for Excellence in Education and the Foundation for Florida’s Future. Rick Scott, the current Florida governor, has followed in Bush’s footsteps and supported the same type of education reform.

Bush has said, “I think you’re getting more dynamic results by having the states play the policy role and holding local school districts accountable for actual learning,” but he recently appeared along with President Obama to show they have common ground on education reform.

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