Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joined us on our Saturday stop on the Iowa Tea Party Bus Tour in Indianola. He answered a couple of our questions regarding education:
Regarding federal involvement in education:
If I’m the nominee we’ll have a contract with America and we’ll have seven major bills. One of the seven bills will be a 10th Amendment enforcement act, and that would return most of the power of the Department of Education back to the states, the local communities, and citizens. I always remind people, it’s not taking power out of Washington to send it back to Des Moines. The 10th Amendment states, “that the people thereof,” so it’s actually re-empowering citizens.
I would personally like to see the Department of Education shrink to a research and reporting overview agency and that its design is to help find new and innovative approaches to then be adopted voluntarily at the local level. I think virtually all of the regulations should disappear. I think that the student loans should be reprivatized. They don’t need any socialist run student run programming and I think that ultimately we need to look at a Pell grant for K-12 so that parents have the ability; I’d encourage every state to consider adopting a Pell Grant approach where every parent can choose the school best for their child and the money would follow the child, not the bureaucracy.
Regarding national common core standards:
I’m not only deeply opposed to a national core curriculum, I really question the concept of core curriculum at the state level. I recently was approached by a special ed teacher who said after 35 years of experience she reached the conclusion that the model of the individual education plan, which is now the baseline for special education, should actually apply to all students – that students learn at a different rate, they have a different set of interests.
Kids can learn how to read easier if they read things they want to read and make them excited about what they are reading. And I raised this with a group of pretty smart people the other day, and one woman came up to me and said, “I was told in high school that I should knit. So I could sit through the class bored me to death so I would cause trouble. I spent my junior and senior years knitting.” Because the core curriculum has begun an engine of bureaucracy which diminishes the enthusiasm of teachers, and which bores children.
So I think we ought to move in the opposite direction which is to accelerate learning and I want to commend Governor Mitch Daniels who just adopted a bill creating a scholarship plan that if you get through high school in three years, the entire value of the fourth year is an automatic scholarship. So he’s really focusing kids in Indiana to learn rapidly as possible, not just sitting and waiting.