Marco Rubio on Education
Republican Florida Senator
Jeered and booed by the crowd, buffeted by tough questions, Rubio stood alone as the only Republican onstage. He broke with President Trump on whether to arm teachers. Rubio said it was a bad idea. He said he would favor raising the minimum age to purchase an assault rifle from 18 to 21. And he said he would consider restricting the size of magazines for firearms.
It was a striking turnabout for Rubio, who never met a gun-rights bill he didn't vote for in the Florida Legislature and, later, in Congress. But Rubio said he wanted to prevent another massacre and said it was time for everyone to start rethinking their positions.
BUSH: [Yes, but] I don't believe the federal government should be involved in the creation of standards directly or indirectly, the creation of curriculum or content.
Q: Sen. Rubio, why is Gov. Bush wrong on Common Core?
RUBIO: I too believe in curriculum reform. It is critically important in the 21st Century. And it should happen at the state and local level. That is where educational policy belongs, because if a parent is unhappy with what their child is being taught in school, they can go to that local school board or their state legislature, or their governor and get it changed. Here's the problem with Common Core. The Department of Education, like every federal agency, will never be satisfied. They will not stop with it being a suggestion. They will turn it into a mandate. They will use Common Core or any other requirements that exists nationally to force it down the throats of our people in our states.
"We shouldn't be stigmatizing those vocational careers. We should be graduating more people from high school ready to work as plumbers, electricians, welders, machinists, BMW technicians, you name it. We have too many people graduating with a four-year degree that doesn't lead to jobs. And they owe tens of thousands of dollars. We should tell students if you graduate with a major in Greek philosophy you're going to struggle to find a job because the market for Greek philosophers is tight."
Rubio's lectures reveal a tactical mind that explores "targets of opportunity" for both parties. He discusses demographic slices of the electorate as if they are pieces on the Electoral College chessboard.
Rubio explains the GOP's dilemma like this: "Basically, Barack Obama got eight out of 10 votes from the fastest-growing groups in America. And Mitt Romney got 90 percent of his votes from the group that is diminishing in terms of its overall percentage of the population.
Imagine, he tells his students at one point, that "despite your message, you can't get through [to minority voters] because they're convinced you hate them. That's going to be a problem."
RUBIO: Actually, I think programs like Head Start are geared in the right direction in the sense that they're trying to get children educational opportunities as young as possible. I think where those programs can be completed and improved is that we create flexibility in them at the local level. So, I'm not saying we should dismantle the efforts, I'm saying that these efforts need to be reformed and I believe the best way to reform them is to turn the money and the influence over to the state and local level where I think you'll find the kinds of innovations that allow us to confront an issue that is complex, and quite frankly diverse. For example, rural poverty looks different than urban poverty. And there are different approaches to it.
We need to incentivize local school districts to offer more advanced placement courses and more vocational and career training. We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice.
A 21st century workforce should not be forced to accept 20th century education solutions. Today's students aren't only 18 year olds. They're returning veterans. They're single parents who decide to get the education they need to earn a decent wage. We need student aid that does not discriminate against programs that non-traditional students rely on--like online courses, or degree programs that give you credit for work experience.
When I finished school, I owed over $100,000 in student loans, a debt I paid off just a few months ago. Today, many graduates face massive student debt. We must give students more information on the costs and benefits of the student loans they're taking out.
As a boy, I had dreamed I would one day play in the NFL. But I never really had the size or speed. That dream was over. I accepted who I was and who I wouldn't be. I made a practical, adult decision. I had to transfer to a school that would prepare me to do something important with my life, something other than play football. But I didn't want to move back to Miami-- I would be too distracted there. And given how poorly I had done in my first semester at Tarkio, I couldn't afford any distractions. I wanted to go to the University of Florida, but I didn't have the grades to be admitted there. I heard a couple of kids in the class below me at South Miami High were going to attend Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, and it sounded like a good fit for me. I decided to attend Santa Fe for a year, improve my GPA and apply for admission to Florida the following year
Rubio could be careful on controversial issues. Conservative lawmakers tried to engage him on voluntary school prayer and abortion, but "he was nowhere to be found," an influential conservative Florida lawmaker said. "I always thought it was a shame because Marco was obviously the most gifted orator."
Parental involvement is at the heart of education. Parents know their children best, love them most, and are in the best position to know if a school is successfully teaching their children. Consequently, parents should have the means and ability to influence their children's education.
Florida's 2+2 system promotes our public community colleges as the primary point of entry for an undergraduate education, while the statewide articulation agreement guarantees community college graduates who receive an associate of arts degree admission to a state university. By providing many student with affordable access to an undergraduate education, the 2+2 policy reduces the enrollment pressures on state universities for the first two years of an undergraduate program.
Vito Fossella (R-NY) introduced a House bill to create a federal tax credit of $4,500 per family to offset the cost of private or parochial school tuition. Florida school districts, meanwhile, receive about $10,000 per student enrolled in a public school. That is why school choice means more money for education without raising the tax burden.
Thus the answer to Florida's education woes is not more spending but smarter spending. Success is not defined by per student spending or classroom size but by learning outcomes.
Public-private partnerships could also be extended to the provision of other school services. Privatizing school services such as transportation in numerous states, including Illinois and Alabama, resulted in substantial savings and improves service quality. A 1998 study by Florida's Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability found that privatized school transportation could save Florida over $13 million annually. Another are to examine for public-private partnerships is school provision of cafeteria food. In sum, public-private partnerships will enable schools to free up money for other educational uses.
Faith2Action.org is "the nation's largest network of pro-family groups." They provide election resources for each state, including Voter Guides and Congressional Scorecards excerpted here. The Faith2Action survey summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: 'Less federal and more state / local control of education'
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Senate races 2021-22:
AK: Incumbent Lisa Murkowski(R)
vs.Challenger Kelly Tshibaka(R)
vs.2020 candidate Al Gross(D)
AL: Incumbent Richard Shelby(R) vs.U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks(R) vs.Ambassador Lynda Blanchard(R) vs.Katie Britt(R) vs.Judge Jessica Taylor(R) vs.Brandaun Dean(D) vs.
AR: Incumbent John Boozman(R)
vs.Candidate Dan Whitfield(D)
AZ: Incumbent Mark Kelly(D)
vs.CEO Jim Lamon(R) vs.Blake Masters(R)
vs.A.G. Mark Brnovich(R) vs.Mick McGuire(R)
CA: Incumbent Alex Padilla(D)
vs.2018 Senate candidate James Bradley(R)
vs.State Rep. Jerome Horton(D)
CO: Incumbent Michael Bennet(D)
CT: Incumbent Richard Blumenthal(D)
vs.Challenger Joe Visconti(R)
vs.2018 & 2020 House candidate John Flynn(R)
FL: Incumbent Marco Rubio(R)
vs.U.S.Rep. Val Demings(D)
vs.U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson(D)
GA: Incumbent Raphael Warnock(D)
vs.Navy vet Latham Saddler(R)
HI: Incumbent Brian Schatz(D)
vs.Former State Rep. Cam Cavasso(R ?)
IA: Incumbent Chuck Grassley(R)
vs.State Sen. Jim Carlin(R)
vs.Former U.S. Rep IA-1 Abby Finkenauer(D)
ID: Incumbent Mike Crapo(R)
IL: Incumbent Tammy Duckworth(D)
vs.U.S.Rep. Adam Kinzinger(? R)
IN: Incumbent Todd Young(R)
vs.Challenger Haneefah Abdul-Khaaliq(D)
vs.Psychologist Valerie McCray(D)
KS: Incumbent Jerry Moran(R)
KY: Incumbent Rand Paul(R)
vs.State Rep Charles Booker(D)
LA: Incumbent John Kennedy(R)
MD: Incumbent Chris Van Hollen(D)
MO: Incumbent Roy Blunt(R)
vs.Eric Greitens(R) vs.Scott Sifton(D)
vs.Eric Schmitt(R) vs.Lucas Kunce(D)
vs.Mark McClosky(R) vs.Vicky Hartzler(R)
vs.Tim Shepard(D) vs.Billy Long(R)
NC: Incumbent Richard Burr(R,retiring)
vs.Ted Budd(R) vs.Pat McCrory(R)
vs.Cheri Beasley(D) vs.Rett Newton(D)
ND: Incumbent John Hoeven(R)
vs.Michael J. Steele(D)
NH: Incumbent Maggie Hassan(D)
vs.Chris Sununu(R ?)
NV: Incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto(D)
NY: Incumbent Chuck Schumer(D)
OH: Incumbent Rob Portman(R,retiring)
Bernie Moreno(R) vs.Tim Ryan(D)
vs.Jane Timken(R) vs.Josh Mandel(R)
vs.JD Vance(R) vs.Mike Gibbons(R)
vs.Morgan Harper(D) vs.Matt Dolan(R)
OK: Incumbent James Lankford(R)
OR: Incumbent Ron Wyden(D)
vs.QAnon adherent Jo Rae Perkins(R)
PA: Incumbent Pat Toomey(R,retiring)
vs.Everett Stern(R) vs.Jeff Bartos(R)
vs.Val Arkoosh(D) vs.Carla Sands(R)
vs.John Fetterman(D) vs.Malcolm Kenyatta(D)
vs.Kathy Barnette(R) vs.Sharif Street(D)
vs.Conor Lamb(D) vs.Sean Parnell(R)
vs.Craig Snyder(R) vs.Mehmet Oz(R)
SC: Incumbent Tim Scott(R)
vs.State Rep. Krystle Matthews(D)
SD: Incumbent John Thune(R)
vs.State Rep. Billie Sutton(? D)
UT: Incumbent Mike Lee(R) vs.Allen Glines(D)
vs.Austin Searle(D) vs.Evan McMullin(I)
VT: Incumbent Patrick Leahy(D)
vs.Scott Milne(? R)
WA: Incumbent Patty Murray(D)
vs.Challenger Tiffany Smiley(R)
WI: Incumbent Ron Johnson(R) vs.Tom Nelson(D)
vs.Sarah Godlewski(D) vs.Alex Lasry(D)
vs.Chris Larson(D) vs.Mandela Barnes(D)
Senate Votes (analysis)