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Mike Huckabee on Education

Republican AR Governor


Establish merit pay and abolish tenure

Most school systems follow a first-hired-last-fired rule when they have to cut back on staff. It's a shame to keep a bad teacher because he's been there for 20 years and fire a gifted, inspiring teacher just because he or she arrived a year ago.

School should adopt merit programs, which would make the teaching profession more competitive and thus attract better candidates. Some say that merit pay wouldn't be fair, that some teachers would get more simply because the principal likes them. But isn't that how life works in the private sector? Don't some people get promoted because their boss thinks they do a good job? Merit pay at every school in the country would create a system superior overall to what we have now. We hear all this agonizing about the criteria for merit pay, about the difficulty of deciding who deserves more. The truth is that principals know who their best teachers are. Teachers themselves know who the best teachers in their school are, as do the children and their parents.

Source: A Simple Government, by Mike Huckabee, p. 96-97 , Feb 22, 2011

In AR, instituted charter schools & abstinence education

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.124-126 , Nov 18, 2008

Develop both sides of students' brains: music AND math

[We must] prepare our children and grandchildren for the work world of the 21st century. That's why, as governor, I emphasized fundamentals, and set up back-to-basics programs in math and reading that improved test scores dramatically.

That's why, as governor, I insisted that all students have art and music education to develop both sides of their brains so that they wouldn't just learn by rote but would become creative problem solvers.

That's why I believe in reducing the high school dropout rate, now at 30% and approaching 50% for minority students, by eliminating the main cause for dropping out--boredom--and allowing students to pursue their passions and future career interests through personalized learning. Each student, working with his parents, teachers, and community, will develop a plan that allows him to take responsibility for his learning.

Given the Internet, a student is no longer bound by the walls of a classroom--the world is his classroom.

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.131-132 , Nov 18, 2008

Courted home-schoolers in Iowa caucus

The morning of the Iowa straw poll I hosted a breakfast for about 200 Iowa home-schoolers. Iowa has a strong home-schooling community, and we wanted them to know we were on their side. [One leader] of the faith community openly offered his support for me. His influence among the very committed home-schooled community and his national reputation as one of the real players in evangelical circles was a huge deal. The timing of his support may have kept us in the race in the early days of the summer.
Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.101 , Nov 18, 2008

Differentiates microevolution from macroevolution

In the very first 2007 debate, the host asked for a show of hands of who didn't believe in evolution. It was a ridiculous question, given that no president has ever written the text of an 8th-grade science textbook and has no role in such things. In addition, a show of hands didn't allow us to give any additional information or elaboration--nor even clarification as to whether the question pertained to macroevolution (that overall the world is changing and adapting) or microevolution (that there is a very detailed process in which all species are in the process of evolving into higher life forms).

Later I was asked, "Well, do you believe in evolution?"

I answered, "'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.' To me it's pretty simple, a person either believes that God created this process or believes that it just happened all on its own. Now, how did he do it & how long did he take? I don't honestly know, and I don't think knowing would make me a better or a worse president. "

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p. 58-60 , Nov 18, 2008

Ivy League founded by spiritual people for Christian purpose

[Liberal redistribution philosophy] is essentially a classic Robin Hood approach to charity--rob from the rich to give to the poor, but in this case it is government who decides who is rich, who is poor, and what level of stealing from one will be adequate to help the other.

Conservatives have typically eschewed this type of benevolence in favor of the old-fashioned kind in which a person who had something in excess of his need gave freely to another out of a true spirit of community and as an expression of gratitude to a God who had given generously to him and expected him to do the same for others.

Consider, for example, our original institutions of higher education--the Ivy League. Virtually all of the Ivy League universities were started with a very specific Christian mission. It was unapologetically the Founders' understanding that the underlying moral structure derived from our Judeo-Christian heritage formed the basis of our government and educational systems.

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.112-114 , Nov 18, 2008

Increased school taxes, by court order, and schools improved

Q: What about Mitt Romneyís claims on your tax policies?

A: He made claims about tax increases for education. But he failed to mention that they were [to comply with a court order], to improve education for the children of the state.

Q: Even if it means raising taxes?

A: Now, when we raised taxes, it was to meet an educational demand--our schools were deemed by the courts to be unconstitutional. In Arkansas, weíve been down the road of a governor defying the courts and saying, ďIím not going to follow the court order.ď Didnít turn out real well. I wasnít going to be the second Arkansas governor to do that. In fact, Iím proud of the fact that we raised teacher pay, proud of the fact that, in every year we tested kids, we saw vast improvements in their test scores, things got better, not worse. Education is a key for every child. And I want to make sure that if weíre going to spend more money--and the court said we have to--then letís make sure we spend it wisely.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 ďMeet the CandidatesĒ series , Dec 30, 2007

Education is a state issue, not a federal issue

The whole role of education is a state issue. Itís not really a federal issue. The worst thing that we can do is to shift more burden, more responsibility, more authority to the federal government when more of it needs to go to the states. The federal government can play a pivotal role primarily in helping to make sure that the best practices working in the states are shared with states who are struggling. We have 6,000 kids every day drop out in the US. They drop out because theyíre bored to death. Theyíre in a 19th-century education system in a 21st-century world. If we really are serious, then we build a curriculum around their interests rather than just push them into something they donít care. Iím a passionate, ardent supporter of having music & art in every school for every student at every grade level because itís not frivolous. If we donít develop the right side of the brain with the same level of attention as we do the left, the logical side, we end up with an unbalanced, bored student.
Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Republican Debate , Dec 12, 2007

Focus on whatís good for students, not good for school

Q: How do you explain the decline of support to Republicans by Hispanics?

A: I think Hispanics want the same thing everybody wants. They want jobs. They want education. They want to know that theyíre going to be able to live with freedom. As we look at issues like education weíll understand that while the dropout rate from high school is 30% among all populations, itís 50% among Hispanics. Weíve got to change that by creating personalized education that focuses on perpetuating whatís good for students, not just making whatís good for the school . Thereís also issues and disparities between diabetes and other issues of health. So I think, if our policies reflect lifting people up, weíll get the vote.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Weapons of Mass Instruction: more science AND more arts

Q: One out of three Hispanic students donít finish high school. What would you do to stop dropouts?

A: An education is empowerment. The lack of it leads us to incredible, just all kinds of obstacles in our path. And we always talk about we need more math and science. But one of the reasons we have kids failing is not because theyíre dumb, itís theyíre bored. Theyíre bored with a curriculum that doesnít touch them. We have schools that are about perpetuating the schools, not helping the students. I propose launching Weapons of Mass Instruction, making sure that we are launching not only the math and science, but music and art programs that touch the right side of the brain, and not only educate the left side of the studentís brain. Because without a creative economy and a creative student, you have a bored student, and thatís one of the reasons we see so many of them dropping out.

Source: 2007 Republican primary debate on Univision , Dec 9, 2007

Impeach judges for barring legislature prayers to Jesus

Q: Recently, a federal judge ordered the Indiana legislature to censor their prayers. Specifically, the federal judge ordered the Indiana legislature to never allow anyone to offer an invocation prayer in Jesusí name. Will you as president consider impeachment a possible remedy for this judicial activism?
Source: [Xref Hunter] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Equal funds for abstinence as contraceptive-based education

Q: Iím 18. One in four sexually-active teens has a sexually-transmitted disease. Meanwhile, 2.5 million American teens like me have taken public abstinence pledges, to save sex until marriage--the only 100%-proven effective solution and prevention for STDs. Would you bring abstinence-education funding onto equal ground with contraceptive-based education?
Source: [Xref Cox] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Tax-credited programs for Christian schooling

Q: Iím 17, and Iím the product of school choice. In the public schools I repeated the 7th grade three times, because of my deficiency in math & English. My mother then sent me to New Generation, a Christian school. After one year, my math improved 5 grade levels, and my English improved 3. Will you support school choice for other students like me with similar tax-credit programs?
Source: [Xref Keyes] 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Iím running for president, not writing science curriculum

Q: At a previous debate, you indicated that you do not believe in evolution. What do you believe? Is it the story of creation as it is described in the Bible?

A: Itís interesting that that question would even be asked of somebody running for president. Iím not planning on writing the curriculum for an eighth-grade science book. Iím asking for the opportunity to be president. But youíve raised the question, so let me answer it. ďIn the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.Ē To me itís pretty simple, a person either believes that God created this process or believes that it was an accident and that it just happened all on its own.

Q: Do you believe literally it was done in six days and it occurred 6,000 years ago?

A: I believe there is a God who was active in the creation process. Now, how did he do it, and when did he do it, and how long did he take? I donít honestly know, and I donít think knowing that would make me a better or a worse president.

Source: 2007 GOP debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Ending school prayer was one step in societyís moral decay

How did we move in one generation from a society with a shared, confident sense of right to a society of relativism and moral decay? The first step to answering that question is to admit there isnít just one answer. Iíve heard that it all started when we took prayer out of schools. Thatís a simplistic answer. It wasnít just prayer in schools; it wasnít just TV; it wasnít just Watergate; it wasnít just welfare.

If any force is going to overcome a free, prosperous country like America, it wonít happen all at once. Amreica has a solid foundation of liberty, personal dignity, and opportunity.

The only way to destroy something with that kind of foundation is to chip away at it, one value at a time. Take away its heart and essence. Bring doubt to what used to be confidence, denial to what used to be faith, death to what was life. I think that is what has happened.

Source: Character Makes a Difference, by Mike Huckabee, p.107-109 , Jun 1, 2007

Does not believe in evolution

Q: Do you believe in evolution?

McCAIN: Yes.

Q: Iím curious, is there anybody on the stage that does not agree, believe in evolution?

[TANCREDO, HUCKABEE, and BROWNBACK raise their hands, indicating that they do not believe in evolution].

McCAIN: I believe in evolution. But I also believe, when I hike the Grand Canyon and see it at sunset, that the hand of God is there also.

Source: 2007 GOP primary debate, at Reagan library, hosted by MSNBC , May 3, 2007

Incorporate character education into school curriculum

In my first few years in office we laid the foundation for many reforms related to genuine standards, including incorporating character education into the school curriculum to teach good manners and basic elements of personal character and honor.
Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 44-45 , Jan 4, 2007

Authorize & advance more charter schools

[As governor, we laid the foundation for] the authorization and advancement of charter schools. I have long advocated that charter schools are wonderful laboratories for educational reform. Critics often complain that many charter schools fail, but that is precisely the point of a charter school and its difference from a traditional one. In a charter school, if it doesnít succeed in meeting its agreed-upon goals, we simply close it. Traditional public schools have failed for generations to adequately educate students, but they keep getting funded year after year. Charter schools can bring innovative ideas to the marketplace with little long-term financial risk.
Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 45-46 , Jan 4, 2007

Replace entire school board for failing schools

One of the most important pieces of legislation passed in Arkansas to achieve educational reform was the Omnibus Education Act of 2003. This bill empowered the state board of education to do more than issue warnings to under-performing schools; it gave them the authority to step in and two consecutive years of fiscal or academic distress and, when appropriate, terminate the superintendent, fire and replace the entire school board, and assume all operations of the failing school. While a drastic measure, it is inexcusable that schools which fail to efficiently, properly, or adequately spend taxpayer money continue to exist year after year. Those responsible for such mismanagement should be held accountable. Only in public education have we typically allowed total failure to result in continued employment and automatic annual pay raises.
Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 48 , Jan 4, 2007

Support displaying the Ten Commandments in public schools

Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 2002

SmartStart focuses on high standards and accountability

Arkansasí Smart Start program puts a major emphasis on high standards and accountability while focusing on reading, math, and character-based education in the early grades. The real value of Smart Start will not be evident by the next election. It will take more than a year or two to see what happens when children grow up in a public education system where there are no excuses for failure, where standards are raised instead of lowered, where individual students & schools are held accountable.
Source: Living Beyond Your Lifetime, by Mike Huckabee, p. 99-100 , Oct 1, 2000


Mike Huckabee on Arkansas Ed Reform

FactCheck: AR improved test scores, but still below-average

Governors Huckabee & Romney both claimed to have the most impressive record on education. Romney claimed, ďThe kids in our state scored number one in all four measures on the national exams, and they did that because of Republican principles.Ē

Itís tru that Massachusetts school children scored first in the nation in the most recent NAEP tests, scoring a clean sweep among both 4th-graders and 8th-graders in math & reading. But MA also had ranked at or near the top before Romney took office, so heís straining the facts to attribute the success entirely to ďRepublican principlesĒ and his leadership.

Arkansas consistently scored below the national average before Huckabee came along, and on most tests it still does. But on all four NAEP tests, ARís scores moved closer to the average during Huckabeeís time in office. Coming from below average to not-so-much-below average is significant. Whether that constitutes the ďmost impressiveĒ record among GOP candidates, weíll leave others to judge.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Des Moines Register Republican debate , Dec 12, 2007

SmartStart: early character-based education

Another initiative we promoted in Arkansas was the Smart Start program, which puts a major emphasis on high standards and accountability while focusing on reading, math, and character-based education in the early grades. With Arkansas ranked near the bottom in educational achievement, creating and implementing a statewide initiative that refocuses public education is an important task.

The real value of Smart Start will not be most evident in the short-term. It will take more than a single school year to see what happens when children grow up in a public education system where there are no excuses for failure, where the standards are raised instead of lowered, and where individual students and schools are held accountable.

Source: Character Makes a Difference, by Mike Huckabee, p.163-164 , Jun 1, 2007

Sends his kids to public school; says other officials should

While many elected officials pontificate proudly about their deep interest in and commitment to public education, so many put their own children in private schools. If the public schools are so deserving of their (and our) support, why arenít they deserving of the ultimate support--having confidence enough in them for their own children to be educated there?

My three children were the first children of any Arkansas governor in at least 50 years who spent their first through senior high education entirely in the public schools of Arkansas. My wife and I are ourselves products of public schools. For us, there was no option as we grew up in families that could not have afforded a private school had one even existed in our hometown.

As governor, although the teachersí union in Arkansas never supported me (mainly because they have so long been controlled by the machinery of the Democratic Party), improving education in the public schools has understandably been a priority for me.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 42-43 , Jan 4, 2007

Reformed AR education with Smart Start & Next Step

In 1998 I announced an initiative we called Smart Start, the first of several major reform efforts in Arkansas that were to focus on not only increasing funding but, more important, improved results. Later the K-4 Smart Start Initiative would be joined b Smart Step for grades 5-8. Ultimately we launched Next Step, which was the full implementation of a reform strategy that included grades 9-12.

It was a priority for me to develop more accessible and effective preschool programs and to make dramatic changes in both access and affordability in higher education. We developed a seamless curriculum from pre-K through college so that there was coordination and continuity throughout the educational process. There are at least 5 elements essential to improving schools:

  1. Mark the standards--with challenging goals
  2. Measure the progress--like with No Child Left Behind
  3. Meet the expectations--there must be accountability
  4. Mobilize the community
  5. Move the potential
Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p. 43-45 , Jan 4, 2007

Supported creation of Arkansas charter schools

Source: PAC website, HopeForAmericaPac.org, ďAboutĒ , Dec 1, 2006

Raise teacher salaries; hire more teachers

Source: 2002 AR Gubernatorial National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 2002

First priority: Raise teacher salaries

Our basic constitutional responsibility is to provide for free, equitable and adequate public education for students through the 12th grade. I would recommend that we set for ourselves the task of raising teacher salaries in this state by $3,000, recognizing thatís not enough and itís not the finish line but itís a good starting point. If we donít raise those salaries at least by that kind of money, we are going to be further and further behind.
Source: 2001 State of the State address to the Arkansas legislature , Jan 9, 2001

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