Gary Johnson on Education
Libertarian presidential nominee; former Republican NM Governor
JOHNSON: I'd like to think that it was everything in office. You know, being fiscally conservative, over the top, and always standing up for choice, always coming down on the side of choice.
Q: Can you be more specific?
JOHNSON: Well, I maybe was more outspoken than any governor in the country regarding school choice. Really, I think that we should bring competition to public education. I would like to get the federal government out of education, allowing state dollars to be spent in those states as opposed to making a detour in Washington where you send money 13 cents to Washington and it come back 11 cents and then it come back with mandates. The war on drugs. Look, we have tens of millions of Americans in this country who are convicted felons that but for our drug laws would otherwise be tax-paying, law-abiding citizens.
We need to compare one school to another when it comes to test scores in the various categories. We also need to be able to look at one school from one year to the next, and have the results put out in a format that is easy to read and easy to understand
I realized that many people believed vouchers take money away from the public school system. But my plan would have increased the per capita funding for kids who remained in public schools because we were actually spending about $5,500/child--so each public school district would get an extra $2,000 for each student who opted out.
I used this example to explain: If every student in Santa Fe were to opt out of public schools, which would never happen, Santa Fe public schools would be left with about 40% of their budget and no students. Tell me how that takes away from public education.
I believe that we should treat K-12 education more like higher education. The reason higher education in the US is the best in the world is because these institutions compete with each other for tuition dollars. We need that same competition in public education.
The argument that vouchers are unconstitutional because you're giving money to private schools is bogus. If you want to start calling vouchers unconstitutional, then every single state has got a lot of unconstitutional programs. We give low-income parents money so they can take their pre-school children to day-care centers of their choice. Many are church-affiliated. We don't tell them where they have to take their child.
This is not about getting rid of or weakening public education, it's about providing alternatives that will force public schools to react very quickly. Public schools will get better if they have to compete.
I didn't want to try to circumvent or dilute the issue. Instead, we took it to every part of the state, to the teachers' convention, to the parents, and made our case that, with so much money pouring into our schools, we had little to show for it. Competition would make our schools better.
When I sought re-election, my opponent thought the school voucher issue would be the death of me. I wasn't.
Business is about "Best product, best service, lowest price." If you can combine all three of those elements, then you're successful. Period.
I see vouchers as a way of bringing those three business elements into education: Best product, best service, lowest price.
Q: Should we limit federal funds to public schools that do not meet performance standards?
A: No, the federal government should not be involved in education.
A: My plans don't include doing anything when it comes to student loans. The reason for the higher cost in higher education rests with the fact that there are those student loans available. Because those loans are guaranteed, kids are graduating from college, literally strapped with [the equivalent of] a home mortgage. I'm a believer in free markets. I suggest that if student loans did not exist--and I am not advocating that--tuition would be a lot lower because colleges and universities want to deliver their product, and if there weren't as many kids going to school because it costs too much, they would find ways to lower their price. They haven't met that necessity; they don't see that as a necessity because all students can get student loans. Hence the high cost of college education, where you see the costs of other goods and services dropping.
JOHNSON: I'm promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013. That's a 43% reduction in federal spending. I am going to promise to advocate the abolishment of the federal Department of Education. The federal Department of Education gives each state 11 cents out of every dollar that every state spends, but it comes with 16 cents worth of strings attached. So what America does not understand is that it's a negative to take federal money. Give it to 50 laboratories of innovation, the states, to improve on, and that's what we'll see: dramatic improvement.
A: There are currently two that I advocate abolishing: the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Q: Do you favor a balanced budget amendment?
A: I do--but the problem is that passing balanced budgets for future years is what we do and it takes away the immediate problem and kicks it down the road.
Now, imagine an educational system that not only educates students better, but also does it for less money every year. It would give each American child the opportunity to choose an individualized education to realize his or her dreams.
All parents should have an opportunity to know choose which school their children attend. By putting educational funds in the hands of the people who use it gives parents and students a vote as to which schools are best and which need to improve. It's time to free individuals from burdensome federal mandates so they can pursue the right educational strategies.
The Department of Education grants each state 11 cents out of every dollar it spends on education. Unfortunately, every dollar of this money comes with 16 cents of strings attached. States that accept federal funding lose five cents for every dollar spent on education to pay for federal mandates and regulations, taking millions of dollars out of the classroom.
Schools should have the authority to decide how best to spend educational dollars, not those in Washington. Without federal regulations and mandates, schools could choose to purchase new computers, better lab equipment, and maintain after-school sports and music programs even during times of tight budgets.
Once citizens and their local representatives have the freedom to decide how their educational funds will be spent, they can consider innovations that will drive student choice, educational competition, and better results
A: My plans don't include doing anything when it comes to student loans. The reason for the higher cost in higher education rests with the fact that there are those student loans available. Because those loans are guaranteed, kids are graduating from college, literally strapped with [the equivalent of] a home mortgage. I'm a believer in free markets. I suggest that if student loans did not exist--and I am not advocating that-- tuition would be a lot lower because colleges and universities want to deliver their product, and if there weren't as many kids going to school because it costs too much, they would find ways to lower their price. They haven't met that necessity; they don't see that as a necessity because all students can get student loans. Hence the high cost of college education, where you see the costs of other goods and services dropping.
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