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Rick Santorum on Education

Republican Jr Senator (PA)


2006: college for all; 2012: college for all is snobbish

At an Americans For Prosperity-sponsored tea party rally, Rick Santorum attacked President Obama's plan to make college more accessible to Americans: "President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college," Santorum said. "What a snob!"

But the last time Santorum ran for public office, he was right there with Obama, running on his promise to make college more accessible to all Pennsylvanians. On Santorum's 2006 Senate campaign website is his "Commitment to Higher Education:"

"In addition to Rick's support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable."

Source: Evan McMorris-Santoro on TalkingPointsMemo.com , Feb 25, 2012

I should not have voted for No Child Left Behind

Q: [to Paul]: Should attacks should be abandoned?

PAUL: Well, they should be abandoned if you're not telling the truth. But if you're exposing a voting record I think it's quite proper. There was one ad that we used against Sen. Santorum, and I only had one problem, is I couldn't get all the things in I wanted to say in one minute. We mentioned No Child Left Behind; he supported raising the national debt; he voted for prescription drug programs; he voted against right-to-work.

SANTORUM: Rep. Paul has been quoting a lot of left-wing organizations. With respect to some of the votes that they elicit, I admit, I'm a strong conservative, but I'm not perfect. President Bush's signature initiative of No Child Left Behind, I voted for it, I shouldn't have. It was something that I said, and I will say publicly, that we should repeal. In fact, we should repeal all of federal government's role in primary and secondary education, and if you give me the opportunity, I'll do that.

Source: Fox News debate on MLK Day in Myrtle Beach, SC , Jan 16, 2012

Our education system doesn't serve the customer

Q: What as president would you seriously do about a massive overreach of big government into the classroom?

JOHNSON: I am going to promise to advocate the abolishment of the federal Department of Education.

SANTORUM: 20 years ago, the federal contribution to education was 3%. It's now at 11%, and our schools are doing worse. It's because the federal government's meddling. The bottom-line problem is that the education system doesn't serve the customer of the education system. And who's the customer? The parents, because it's the parents' responsibility to educate their children--from the moment they were born, they began the education of their children. At some point, the government has convinced parents that it's no longer their responsibility. They force them, in many respects, to turn their children over to the public education system and wrest control from them and block them out of participation of that. That has to change or education will not improve in this country.

Source: 2011 GOP Google debate in Orlando FL , Sep 22, 2011

2001: Keep Department of Education; 2012: it's unnecessary

In an interview in early 2011, Santorum said, "I've been for school choice since the very beginning. I've sponsored school choice bills." That appears to be correct. As a candidate for the Senate in 1994, Santorum filled out a questionnaire in which he signaled his support for school choice.

However, he indicated in that questionnaire that he wanted "national standards" from the federal government and he didn't support eliminating the Department of Education. This bears itself out in his record. Santorum supported No Child Left Behind in 2001, which greatly expanded Washington's control over education.

Santorum now appears to have reversed course. In that same 2011 interview, Santorum said, "Well, the Department of Education is, in my opinion, unnecessary and overseeing a state bureaucracy which is already a big problem."

While Santorum's school choice goals move in the right direction, he undermines that with support for too much federal government control.

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #4: Santorum , Jun 6, 2011

One-time $500 contribution to every low-income child

I have been working with Democratic Senator Jon Corzine on an idea titled the America Saving for Personal Investment, Retirement, and Education Act (the "ASPIRE" Act). It creates savings account called a Kids Investment and Development Savings (KIDS) account for every child born in America. Under this plan, the federal government would endow each account with a one-time $500 contribution. Every child living in households earning below the national median income would be eligible for an additional contribution of up to $500. These accounts would encourage savings and promote financial literacy for all children, and they would give low-income children in particular a sense of ownership, a stake in the American economy, and a source of wealth to help them through life in a manner similar to a federal employee's Thrift Savings Account. All earnings in the account would be tax-free until withdrawn.
Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p.152-153 , Apr 30, 2006

Rich people already have school choice; give it to the poor

We already have school choice in this country. The problem is that we've only got school choice for people who can afford it.

School choice today takes two forms. The most obvious form is the choice exercised by those who can afford to pay the cost of private school.

Second, there's an affordable from of school choice, which happens every day in every community in America. It's called MOVING.

So we've got residential school choice already. And you know what? The same hysterical criticisms made by those against making school choice viable for low-income families already apply to residential school choice. It creams off the best students! More resources go to school that are already better!

So we have plenty of school choice today already. But it's inefficient and unfair. It's disruptive and costly to move. And it's inequitable. Low-income families can't move, so they are stuck; their children are stuck. We must empower ALL our children with scholarships if we are to achieve common good.

Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p.365-366 , Apr 30, 2006

1990s: School uniforms happen to be a good idea

More gifted liberal politicians, rather than dismissing moral concerns, go out of their way to make political gestures shrewdly designed to try to convince the electorate that they SHARE a concern for eroding American values. But these political efforts, despite megaphone publicity, touch only on small matters. Remember Pres. Clinton's campaign" for school uniforms? Then, their "image" properly "managed" so as to appear "moderate," these politicians proceed with their real agenda, an agenda utterly hostile to traditional morals.

School uniforms. They happen to be a good idea, but they're not the responsibility of the president. Yet as a politician I have to shake my head in wonderment at the sheer political artistry of such a move. It cost Bill Clinton nothing; there was no changes that this "campaign" would go anywhere. Yet by loudly trumpeting his interest in school uniforms, Pres. Clinton was able to portray himself as someone who got it when it came to questions of America's moral health.

Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p.209 , Apr 30, 2006

Family, religion, and schools: most fundamental institutions

    Schools [are one of] the most fundamental institution of society for three reasons.
  1. Like the family, schools are directly involved in the raising of children, which is always the central task of any society.
  2. Because it is impossible to raise a child in a genuinely value-neutral way, schools are--like churches--value-transmitting institutions.
  3. Schools are enormous generators of social capital, bringing parents, families, and whole communities together in a common endeavor.
Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p.351 , Apr 30, 2006

Comprehensive sex ed has no impact on pregnancy or STD rates

The field of abstinence education has not been studied as intensively as has the "regular" sex ed--so-called comprehensive sex ed. (And comprehensive sex ed, by the way, has not been shown to have ANY impact on pregnancy or STD rates. The ONLY liberal program ever shown to lower pregnancy rates involved injecting inner-city teenage girls with DepoProvera, which, while preventing pregnancy, did nothing to protect them from becoming infected with STDs).

But studies show that we can help young people make the healthy choice to delay sexual activity--preferably until marriage, but at least until adulthood. An analysis revealed that adolescent girls who signed a virginity pledge were 40% less likely to have child out of wedlock than girls who did not sign a pledge.

Yet in this country, we continue to pour millions more dollars into comprehensive sex ed, which "protects" against the "effects" of UNHEALTHY behavior, rather than promoting virtue, which will lead to HEALTHY behavior.

Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p. 87-90 , Apr 30, 2006

Home-schooled six children with wife Karen

My wife and I [decided that our] six children should be home-schooled. My wife Karen is trained as a nurse and a lawyer, and our kids are lucky to have such a talented person as their primary educator. (Yes, I help out too, but for most families it makes sense for one parent to take on the primary educational role.) However, research suggests that there is no correlation between educational level of parents and the educational success of their homeschooled children.

We didn't set out with any grand plan for homeschooling. It just happened rather naturally, when we couldn't find a kindergarten for our oldest child that we were happy with. Eventually, we took the same approach with all our children. But we did it one year at a time, each year making a decision as to what was the best course for each child.

The greatest thing about homeschooling is that, though it's hard and stressful at times, you develop this amazingly close relationship with your kids.

Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p.384 , Apr 30, 2006

Multiculturalism insists we teach about comic books

Sometime in the 1980s, universities began to champion the importance of "diversity" as a central educational value. Now, it may well be true that the traditional curriculum, the traditional "canon" of great books, did not do full justice to great works outside the Western tradition. On the other hand, America is part of Western Civilization.

Multiculturalism would not be so destructive if it limited itself to opening up the canon of great books to Eastern masterpieces. However, its relativist premise also rejected the distinction between high culture and low culture. According to the postmodern theory that underwrote multiculturalism, the difference between a great book and an ordinary book is merely the result of an exercise of power by the establishment culture. The canon of great books was rejected as an ideological prop for "dead white European males," as the saying went. The latest mystery novels and even comic books were just as worthy of study as Tolstoy or Shakespeare.

Source: It Takes A Family, by Sen. Rick Santorum, p.406-407 , Apr 30, 2006

Expose kids to legitimate debate of evolution & creationism

The Seattle-based nonprofit Discovery Institute spends more than $1 million a year for research, polls and media pieces supporting intelligent design. Some evolution opponents are trying to use Bush's No Child Left Behind law, saying it creates an opening for states to set new teaching standards. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), a Christian who draws on Discovery Institute material, drafted language accompanying the law that said students should be exposed to "the full range of scientific views that exist."

"Anyone who expresses anything other than the dominant worldview is shunned and booted from the academy," Santorum said in an interview. "My reading of the science is there's a legitimate debate. My feeling is let the debate be had."

Discovery Institute raised money for "Unlocking the Mystery of Life," a DVD shown on PBS stations. The institute has sponsored opinion polls and underwrites research for books sold in secular and Christian bookstores.

Source: Peter Slevin in Washington Post, p. A1 , Mar 14, 2005

Teach about disagreements in biological evolution theories

This is an amendment that is a sense of the Senate. It is simply two sentences--frankly, two rather innocuous sentences--that hopefully this Senate will embrace:
  1. Good science education should prepare students to distinguish the data or testable theories of science from philosophical or religious claims that are made in the name of science; and
  2. Where biological evolution is taught, the curriculum should help students to understand why this subject generates so much continuing controversy, and should prepare the students to be informed participants in public discussions regarding the subject.
It simply says there are disagreements in scientific theories out there that are continually tested. Our knowledge of science is not absolute. We continue to test theories. I think there are many benefits to this discussion that we hope to encourage in science classrooms across this country. I frankly don't see any down side to this discussion--we are in favor of open and fair discussion.
Source: Santorum speech in "A Senator Speaks Out", p.101-102 , Jun 13, 2001

Kids are trapped without choice in the public schools

We don't have accountability [with school funding]. When you have the dollars and you can take them to this school or to that school, that is accountability. There is no accountability in the public system because there is no choice in the public system. Your child is trapped if you have low income--in the school to which they are designated to go. Therefore, accountability is just simply a check sheet for some government bureaucracy. But there is no accountability to the consumer of the product. The consumer is the child. There is not a Federal mandate on any school. This says, if you are a Governor and you want to work with your cities--we are going to give you a chance, with some Federal dollars, for you and the school district to innovate and to do something very different that might change a child's life. The ultimate accountability is that you can walk with your money. Isn't that what we are afraid of? I think it is. I think it is a great fear of giving up control.
Source: Santorum speech in "A Senator Speaks Out", p. 98-99 , Jun 12, 2001

More teachers & more funding just means more of the same

From the[opposition], I hear two things. One, we need more bricks and mortar. If we had better looking schools and more nicely appointed schools, or even better equipment, somehow the problem would go away. On top of that, we need more teachers. So if we just did more of the same, only did it better, with nice buildings and more people, things would improve. I am not too sure that most Americans who are interfacing with the school systems in this country right now would accept that as a reasonable course
Source: Santorum speech in "A Senator Speaks Out", p. 93 , Apr 1, 1998

Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".

To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act; Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-279 on Oct 27, 2005

Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.

To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-269 on Oct 26, 2005

Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted NO on funding smaller classes instead of private tutors.

Vote to authorize a federal program aimed at reducing class size. The plan would assist states and local education agencies in recruiting, hiring and training 100,000 new teachers, with $2.4 billion in fiscal 2002. This amendment would replace an amendment allowing parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
Reference: Bill S1 ; vote number 2001-103 on May 15, 2001

Voted NO on funding student testing instead of private tutors.

Vote to pass an amendment that would authorize $200 million to provide grants to help states develop assessment systems that describe student achievement. This amendment would replace an amendment by Jeffords, R-VT, which would allow parents with children at under-performing schools to use public funding for private tutors.
Reference: Bill S1 ; vote number 2001-99 on May 10, 2001

Voted NO on spending $448B of tax cut on education & debt reduction.

Vote to reduce the size of the $1.6 trillion tax cut by $448 billion while increasing education spending by $250 billion and providing an increase of approximately $224 billion for debt reduction over 10 years.
Reference: Bill H Con Res 83 ; vote number 2001-69 on Apr 4, 2001

Voted YES on Educational Savings Accounts.

Vote to pass a bill that would permit tax-free savings accounts of up to $2000 per child annually to be used for public or private school tuition or other education expenses.
Reference: Bill S.1134 ; vote number 2000-33 on Mar 2, 2000

Voted YES on allowing more flexibility in federal school rules.

This vote was a motion to invoke cloture on a bill aimed at allowing states to waive certain federal rules normally required in order to use federal school aid. [A YES vote implies support of charter schools and vouchers].
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)55; N)39; NV)6
Reference: Motion to Invoke cloture on Jeffords Amdt #31; Bill S. 280 ; vote number 1999-35 on Mar 9, 1999

Voted YES on education savings accounts.

This Conference Report approved tax-sheltered education savings accounts.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)59; N)36; NV)5
Reference: H.R. 2646 Conference Report; Bill H.R. 2646 ; vote number 1998-169 on Jun 24, 1998

Voted YES on school vouchers in DC.

This legislation would have amended the DC spending measure, imposing an unconstitutional school voucher program on the District.
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)58; N)41; NV)1
Reference: DC Appropriations Act; Bill S. 1156 ; vote number 1997-260 on Sep 30, 1997

Voted YES on $75M for abstinence education.

Vote to retain a provision of the Budget Act that funds abstinence education to help reduce teenage pregnancy, using $75 million of the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant Program.
Reference: Bill S 1956 ; vote number 1996-231 on Jul 23, 1996

Voted YES on giving federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.

Motion to add language to the "Goals 2000: Educate America Act" to give federal aid only to schools allowing voluntary prayer.
Bill HR 1804 ; vote number 1994-85 on Mar 23, 1994

Rated 27% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes.

Santorum scores 27% by the NEA on public education issues

The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

Make employee educational assistance tax-deductible.

Santorum co-sponsored making employee educational assistance tax-deductible

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to restore and make permanent the income tax exclusion of amounts paid under employer-provided educational assistance programs for employees.

Source: Employee Educational Assistance Act (H.R.127) 1993-H127 on Jan 5, 1993

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Page last updated: Mar 07, 2012