News Column

Perry, GOP Hopefuls Take on Education

Aug. 24, 2011

Sean Cavanagh


With the 2012 presidential field taking shape, the Republican candidates are beginning to tout their views on education, and few have been more vocal than Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

The governor entered the race for the GOP nomination as one of the most persistent critics of the Obama administration's school policies. He has criticized the $4 billion federal Race to the Top competition, calling it an attempt to bait states into adopting common academic standards. He has likened the standards -- Texas is one of the few states not to adopt them -- to a national curriculum, an assertion rejected by organizers of that effort.

Perry sounded those themes during an address at the legislative summit of the National Conference of State Legislatures, in San Antonio, a few days before he announced his presidential bid last week. He denounced "an activist federal government" that he argued has been "dictating educational policy."

He also said that the 2009 federal economic-stimulus package, which included $100 billion for education, had failed to stimulate the economy and create significant job growth. The Obama administration has argued that the stimulus created or saved hundreds of thousands of school jobs, and has led to school innovation.

In an interview taped for Bloomberg Television last week, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan criticized Perry's education policies. "I feel very, very badly for the children there. You have seen massive increases in class size. You've seen cutbacks in funding. It doesn't serve the children well," he said.

Some of the other Republican candidates were critical of the No Child Left Behind Act when asked about it during the GOP presidential debate on Aug. 11. The legislation, signed into law by President George W. Bush, a Republican in 2002, hasn't worked for this country, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said.

Source: (c) 2011 Education Week (Bethesda, Md.)