Presidential hopefuls share anti-public education views at conservative conference


by Brian Washington

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By the end of the week, education activists should have a better understanding of how the 2016 field of presidential hopefuls on the Republican side is shaping up and what some of the threats to students, educators, and public education may look like in the future.

Thursday, February 26, kicks off the start of the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, DC. CPAC represents the largest gathering of right-wing conservatives from around the country.

The event’s agenda is filled with workshops designed to come up with new ways to undermine public education and limit opportunity for students. Without a doubt, there will be discussions about siphoning away taxpayer dollars from public education and funneling them into private and religious schools and expanding privately-run charter schools that, despite getting public funding, are not accountable or transparent to the communities they are supposed to serve.

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If some of this sounds like it comes from the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) playbook, which includes restricting the ability of educators to advocate for their students and dismantling public education, that’s because many of the faces attending this week’s CPAC meeting are also regular attendees at various ALEC events.

Also, because this year’s conference is happening at the start of the 2016 election cycle, a string of GOP presidential hopefuls are expected to attend, including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC acolyte who’s also a darling of billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, the Koch Brothers.

Walker has been leading the fight in Wisconsin against workers’ rights, middle-class families, students, educators, and public schools. He was instrumental in defunding higher education and robbed public schools of critical dollars through private school vouchers and huge corporate tax cuts. He also led the charge to strip educators of their voice to advocate on behalf of students.

Another serious contender for the GOP presidential ticket who will be speaking at CPAC this week is former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who also supports private school vouchers, the corporate takeover of public education, and other policies that harm students.

In fact, at last year’s Republican National Convention, Bush told the crowd that public schools should be thought of as competing commodities governed by a free market.

As governor, Bush was also responsible for the implementation of a controversial A-F school grading formula that has since come under fire by parents, educators, and elected leaders and has had to be adjusted at least two dozen times over the last several years.

Other CPAC guest speakers who are looking to head-up the Republican ticket for the White House include U.S. Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas as well as Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Perry of Texas.

CPAC ends Saturday, February 28. Be sure to check the Speak Up for Education and Kids Facebook page and the “What We’re Reading” section of Ed Votes for updates on what’s happening at the conference.

Reader Comments

  1. Who said Bush knew anything about education, and where are his credentials, other than the political money making machine that are self serving for him with vouchers and charter schools robbing our children in public education. No, Jeb.

  2. I know where are leaders aren’t. They are not the principals, superintendents, progressive legislators and bleeding heart liberals who want to let every illegal alien get free public schooling, waste hours of learning time catering to non English speakers, and force teachers to waste hour upon hour ‘proving’ they can do their job.

    The common crap curriculum is a prime example of time waste: in many states it prescribes a curriculum that is less rigorous than what existed, and creates an opportunity for Bill Gates and Pearson to make even more money with the PARCC testing.

    The answer is for teacher organizations to immediately stop giving money to ANY politician or political group, refuse to cooperate in any waste of time testing, and wake up every voter to: establish term limits for every political office, and vote for people who have common sense, not just a “D” next to their name on the ballot.

    1. So you don’t mind seeing our public education crushed by the greedy fools? where only the very rich will be educated? You are OK with this? Your ignorance is mind blowing.

      1. Eileen, I think it is your ignorance is mind blowing or possibly your politics! It is a fact that the left is in charge of our public schools and the more money thrown their way is money down a bottomless pit. The unions care nothing for the education of the young, they are in the tank for the left. The left has taken over the public school system through their endless throwing money away to who is leaving our great history out of school books. We have so many heroes in our history in this making of the greatest country on the planet, but you will not get that information from our public schools. The only answer is to privatize through vouchers the education of our young. That way parents can have a voice in the education of their children.

    2. You obviously know NOTHING about what teachers and administrations are subjected to, nor do you understand the common core curriculum. Administrators want to be free to serve their community and address the needs of their students in that community to provide an education. It doesn’t matter if the students speak English as their native language. Providing productive future citizens does matter. No administrator or union has made the decision to divert PUBLIC tax dollars to private enterprises, politicians supporting ALEC and conservative agendas in Florida are doing just that.
      I am a teacher that does not waste hour upon hour proving I can do my job. I do my job without playing that game and still have been rated as highly effective. Where you got your information from must be more than second hand. This proving ground idea is not new, nor was it invented by teachers or administrations. As public employees, we cannot refuse to do what we are told to do by non-educators that make up the rules. We cannot refuse to give tests required by the state. So you blame the union? Again, you have a twisted sense of what goes on in the world of education. I do agree that you see no need for all that testing – something the entire educational community and their unions are fighting.
      The common core is not a set of rigor on how to teach. It is a guide for what is taught in the United States. If you know it is less rigorous that what the students in your community need, do something about it: “wake up every voter to: establish term limits for every political office, and vote for people who have common sense, not just a “D” next to their name on the ballot”. The letter doesn’t matter. I vote for who is the better candidate and choose from that criteria – not a D or an R next to the name. I get a lot of helpful information from the union that supports me and they too ignore the letter after the name.

  3. Well, so much for being prepared to compete in the IT revolution or the global community as a nation. What are our representatives thinking when they undermine one of the very structures which has made us a world leader and creator of both values and economics for others in the world to emulate and thrive. I would recommend they read “THAT US TO BE US” by Thomas L. Friedman and Michal Mandelbaum. We must have educated citiziens of we are to draw from the resources, researchers, and creative minds of our “exceptional country” OR we will slip into a nation which was industrialized and technologically strong to an uneducated, chaotic group of “third world” peoples wondering – “WHAT HAPPENED and WHERE WERE OUR LEADERS?”

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