Senator Rand Paul Talks School Choice

randpaulKentucky Senator Rand Paul took his message of school choice to Chicago, where he promoted school choice for poor families and met students and professors at the University of Chicago.

Senator Paul summed up his purpose by these words:

“We’re here today to talk about school choice. And these are all kinds of choices, not just limited to public. It’s public, private, religious, secular, you name it. I’m a big believer that choice is good for kids, that innovation is good for kids, and that we need to be open minded because there’s a lot of things in education that’s been going on in our country decade after decade and it’s been to the detriment of our kids.

One statistic that comes to mind is that if you look at people who graduate from only high school or less, they have a 25% unemployment rate. If you look at people who graduate from college, they have a 4% unemployment rate. So a lot of the problems we have are related to education and a lot of unemployment comes from a lack of education.

I think the traditional public schools – and I came from public schools, my kids go to public schools, so I’m not an enemy of public schools – but there are some failings in some of our public schools so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be for innovation and more choice. In our country, capitalism is competition, is choice. We get better products at a cheaper price because we compete for them. I think that we should bring some of that excellence from the market place into education.”

Paul took the stage at Josephinum Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school made up by a majority of lower-income, Hispanic students.

Paul led an education round-table discussion at the school, and later spoke to University of Chicago students. In one of the more spirited segments, Paul was questioned by former Obama adviser David Axelrod:

Senator Paul: Extraordinary teachers should be filmed and broadcast in every class, colleges too. I mean there’s so much information and ability to transmit it that we need to allow for innovation and not just be stuck in the old model. But the old model is [in place] because people don’t want to allow anybody to get involved with the system.

I’ll give you an example. John Stossel did this thing on education a couple years ago and they had 400 teachers who touched kids inappropriately or did things with kids that made them couldn’t teach anymore. They couldn’t fire them. They had a them in a building in New York City and they just were there day after day being paid, but nobody could fire them because the contract was 14 pages. You couldn’t even fire a pedophile. So, I mean, that’s a problem.

I would pay some teachers more but I’ll would pay some less and I would fire some. But you need to allow that kind of structure to occur where the one who has their with their feet on the desk reading the newspaper and doesn’t do squat for the kids needs to be out the door.

David Axelrod: But you are, Senator, thinking of running for president the United States and you don’t think the federal government should have any role in any this. Not in terms of providing resources, or —

Senator Paul: Education historically was a state and local subject and I think that what we’ve seen is since we’ve spent about a hundred billion dollars in the Department of Education each year and that’s been going on since 1980. I’m not so sure we’re better off than we were before. You see, the one thing —

David Axelrod: So you would vote for a budget that would eliminate most of that?

Senator Paul: Well what I would do is I would have it spent on the state and local level. I wouldn’t take it up there at all, I’d leave it at leave it at home. So you’d spend the money. You might still spend the money in your state government, but education even now, 90, 95-percent of your education dollars are state and local. That $100 billion gets rolled around in a big bureaucracy. They sent rules down that don’t help education – they hinder innovation. I would cut them out of the loop. I don’t think you’d notice if the whole department was gone tomorrow.

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