Michele Bachmann on Education

Republican Representative (MN-6); 2011 GOP frontrunner

Bachmann education stances compared to Sarah Palin

Do Palin and Bachmann both call themselves "feminists"? (No, only Palin does). Do Palin and Bachmann both support school vouchers? (No, only Bachmann does). We cite details from Bachmann's books and speeches, and Palin's, so you can compare them, side-by-side, on issues like these:

Bachmann vs. Palin on Social Issues

Source: Paperback: Bachmann vs. Palin On The Issues , Jan 1, 2012

Don't censor intelligent design, but it's a state issue

While emphasizing that she didn't have a platform position on teaching evolution --since she believed it wasn't something the federal government and president should be involved in--Bachmann said her religious beliefs informed her scientific views and that sufficient questions have been raised concerning evolution to justify alternative theories to be discussed in science classes.

"I do believe that God created the earth and I believe that there are issues that need to be addressed--the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the issue of irreducible complexity, the dearth of fossil record," she said. "Those are all very real issues that should be addressed in science classes."

Not allowing ideas like intelligent design to be discussed in science classes amounted to government censorship, she said. "I think the one thing we do not want to have is censorship by government," she said. "Government shouldn't be dictating what information goes on the table."

Source: Jason Noble in Des Moines Register, "Early Life in Iowa" , Nov 30, 2011

No Child Left Behind imposes 50 new state mandates

I will admit I was disappointed to see President Bush push through the No Child Left Behind Act, which the president signed into law in early 2002. No Child Left Behind was an updated Goals 2000, imposing new mandates on all 50 states--the same federal government good intentions leading to the same downward educational results. We made progress toward the repeal of the Profile of Learning in our state, and yet in the US as a whole, we were handing local classrooms over to the federal bureaucracy.
Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p.127 , Nov 21, 2011

Kids need rigorous academics, not secular values

In 2000, our state senator supported the Profile of Learning curriculum, brushing aside repeated attempts by parents like me to speak to him about our concerns. We phoned; we wrote letters; we made personal visits. When he would agree to see us, we showed him example after example of faulty curriculum, including the dumbed-down tests and the politically correct guideline documents produced in St. Paul. We told him that parents, teachers, and taxpayers in his district were concerned that our kids needed rigorous academics--not liberal and secular values, attitudes, and beliefs imposed by the state. [Bachmann ran against the senator and won].
Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p. 3 , Nov 21, 2011

Founded New Heights Charter School: rigorous, not religious

In 1993, Marcus and I joined with other motivated neighbors to open the New Heights Charter School; immediately, some 200 students signed up. I served on the board of directors. Our goal was simple: We wanted the best possible education for children in the area, based on sound and proven principles. We wanted rigor. We wanted our kids to gain knowledge, facts, and information. We also wanted a special emphasis on help for kids with troubled backgrounds--and that was a lot of kids, even out in the leafy suburbs.

Unfortunately, within months, we were confronting dissidents and protesters who accused us of trying to advance Christian values in the schools. Yes, we were Christians, but we never sought to impose Christianity on our students. However, some liberal activists seemed to think that the word "rigorous" was somehow code for "religious."

Ultimately, I and other board members stepped down. The school survived, and today, the focus on "at risk kids" remains.

Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p.114-115 , Nov 21, 2011

Charters are creative & constructive step in right direction

In the early nineties, a new idea, charter schools, came onto the scene. Charter schools are a sort of public-private educational hybrid in which the charter school--run, perhaps, by a motivated group of experts, activists, and parents--could contract with the government to run a school independently of the traditional public school system. I have always believed that parents should be able to choose the school that their child attends, just as we are empowered to choose most other things in our lives. Charters were therefore a creative and constructive step in the right direction--toward full autonomy for responsible parents and local communities.
Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p.114 , Nov 21, 2011

Abolishing the Department of Education is a good idea

In 1980, Ronald Reagan campaigned for the presidency on a platform that included abolishing the U.S. Department of Education. Only recently created by President Jimmy Carter as a political favor to the teachers' unions, the department had failed to deliver either better test scores or more rigorous curriculum dedicated to academic excellence. That sounded like a good idea to me, because I have never believed I federal control of the schools. The vast majority of parents can figure out for themselves how to educate their children and how to provide them with good values. And if some parents can't do so, well, there's most likely someone nearby who can step in. That's what I mean by local control and by the wisdom of letting the fifty states--all those separate laboratories of democracy--chart their own courses on education. The challenge of good schooling, I firmly believe, is best addressed as close to the student as possible.
Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p.116 , Nov 21, 2011

Mother of all repeal bills for federal Dept. of Education

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

BACHMANN: We need that to do with education what has always worked historically, and that's local control with parents. What doesn't work is what we see happen right now. I'm a mom five biological kids. We've raised 23 foster children in our home. The reason why I got involved in politics was because of the concern I had about our foster children and the education they were getting. What I would do as president of the United States is pass the mother of all repeal bills on education. I would take the entire federal education law, repeal it. Then I would go over to the Department of Education, I'd turn off the lights, I would lock the door and I would send all the money back to the states and localities.

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

Founded a charter school for at-risk kids

Q: The rap against you is that you're an activist, not a legislator.

A: Well, I think I've demonstrated a lifetime of achievement and work. Both my husband and I worked our way through school. But we're also entrepreneurs. We started our own successful company, we've created a lot of jobs--plus, I have a very long history of educational reform. That's how I got started. We had 23 foster children. We'd started a charter school for at-risk kids, and I was very concerned what I was seeing in education. So we were able to accomplish something no one thought was possible, which was the repeal of an anti-academic excellence oriented program in Minnesota, and instead created academic excellence. I saw that you really can fight city hall and win, so to speak, and I took that spirit to Washington, D.C. I'm not a part of the good ol' boys club. But that's something I'm proud of. We need really bold reform, but we need someone who gets the private sector.

Source: Interview with NPR's Mara Liasson , Jun 29, 2011

Education tax credits for tuition at private schools

Congresswoman Bachmann not only has a strong record on school choice, she is the first major presidential candidate to actually found a charter school. In fact, Congresswoman Bachmann co-founded the first K-12 charter school in the nation, New Heights Charter School back in 1993. Her record on school choice has, predictably, been flawless since then.

In 2011, Bachmann voted to re-establish the DC school voucher program. As a member of the State Senate, Q Bachmann voted to prohibit teacher strikes during the school year. She also voted to allow parents to use education tax credits for tuition at private schools. She's introduced legislation to make foster children eligible for education vouchers.

Source: Club for Growth 2012 Presidential White Paper #7: Bachmann , Jun 28, 2011

Charter school ran afoul due to Christian teaching

Bachmann's political awakening began with her deep disenchantment with the public school system. She helped found a charter school that briefly ran afoul of the state when some parents contended that its curriculum was infused with Christian teachings, and her first run for office was a failed bid for the local school board. Her career has been deeply interwoven with her evangelical Christian beliefs--opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage were central to her agenda as a state legislator.
Source: Sheryl Gay Stolberg in New York Times , Jun 21, 2011

Voted YES on reauthorizing the DC opportunity scholarship program.

Congressional Summary:The SOAR Act award five-year grants on a competitive basis to nonprofit organizations to carry out an expanded school choice opportunities to students who are District of Columbia residents and who come from households:
  1. receiving assistance under the supplemental nutrition assistance program; or
  2. with incomes not exceeding 185% of the poverty line.
Provides funds to the Mayor of DC, if the Mayor agrees to specified requirements, for:
  1. the DC public schools to improve public education, and
  2. the DC public charter schools to improve and expand quality public charter schools.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Bishop, R-UT]: In 1996, Congress insisted upon a charter school program in DC. You will hear from both sides of the aisle recognition of the great value that that program has, and justifiably so. There is a waiting list in DC for those charter schools. This bill increases the percentage of funding going to charter schools in the District. In 2003, an Opportunity Scholarship was instituted, at the insistence of Congress. Again, there was a waiting list of people wanting the opportunity; disadvantaged kids who wanted the opportunity that this scholarship afforded them. There were 216 kids at the time scheduled to enter the program who were not allowed; the bill remedies that.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Hastings, D-FL]: In the last 41 years voters have rejected private school vouchers every time they have been proposed. In 1981, 89% of the people in a referendum in DC voted against vouchers. So how dare we come here to tell these people that we are going to thrust upon them something they don't want without a single public official in this community being consulted. Congress' oversight of the District is not an excuse for political pandering to the Republicans' special interest of the day du jour.

Reference: Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR); Bill HRes186 ; vote number 11-HV200 on Mar 30, 2011

Voted NO on $40B for green public schools.

Congressional Summary:Make grants to states for the modernization, renovation, or repair of public schools, including early learning facilities and charter schools, to make them safe, healthy, high-performing, and technologically up-to-date.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. BETSY MARKEY (D, CO-4): This legislation will improve the learning environment for our children, reduce energy costs and create new jobs across the country. Green schools not only save school districts money but also teach the importance of sustainable living to children at a young age.

Opponent's argument to vote No: Rep. GLENN THOMPSON (R, PA-5): We all know our Nation is drowning in a sea of red ink. The bill we're debating today would add an estimated $40 billion in new spending. And despite the majority's hollow promises of fiscal responsibility, there's nothing in the legislation to offset this hefty price tag with spending reductions elsewhere. This is just more of the same borrow and spend, spend and borrow policy that we've seen under this majority and this administration.

Reference: 21st Century Green Schools Act; Bill H.R.2187 ; vote number 2009-H259 on May 14, 2009

Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Veto override on the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health & Human Services, and Labor. Original bill passed & was then vetoed by the President.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority & duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill Veto override on H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-1122 on Nov 15, 2007

$110M per year to teach abstinence in public schools.

Bachmann co-sponsored Abstinence Education Reallocation Act

Congressional Summary:Authorizes the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to award grants for qualified sexual risk avoidance education to youth and their parents. Requires such education to meet certain criteria, including:

  1. being age-appropriate, medically accurate, and evidence-based;
  2. teaching the skills and benefits of sexual abstinence as the optimal sexual health behavior for youth; and
  3. teaching the benefits of refraining from nonmarital sexual activity, the advantage of reserving sexual activity for marriage, and the foundational components of a healthy relationship.
Gives priority to programs that serve youth ages 12 to 19 and that will promote the protective benefits of parent-child communication regarding healthy sexual decisionmaking.

Opponent's argument against bill: (Nick Wing on Huffington Post) How much could it cost to keep teenagers from having sex? More than $100 million per year over the course of five years would be a good starting place, according to the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act. The bill seeks to award $550 million in Affordable Care Act grants over five years to programs that provide teenagers with abstinence-only education.

The abstinence-only effort stands as an effective counter to the Democratic-backed Real Education for Healthy Youth Act. Introduced the same day as the Abstinence Education Reallocation Act, the bill seeks to "expand comprehensive sex education programs in schools and ensure that federal funds are spent on effective, age-appropriate, medically accurate programs." The legislation would also set down guidelines calling for sexual health programs that receive federal funding to feature LGBT-inclusive language on a variety of issues, reject gender stereotypes and provide accurate information about HIV.

Source: S.13 / H.R.718 13-H0718 on Feb 15, 2013

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Education: Michele Bachmann on other issues:
MN Gubernatorial:
Mark Dayton
MN Senatorial:
Al Franken
Amy Klobuchar
Heather Johnson
Jim Abeler
Mike McFadden

Left 113th Congress, 2013-2014:
AL-1: Jo Bonner(R,resigned)
FL-13:Bill Young(R,deceased)
FL-19:Trey Radel(R,arrested)
IL-2: Jesse L. Jackson(D,convicted)
LA-5: Rodney Alexander(R,resigned)
MA-5: Ed Markey(D,elected)
MO-8: Jo Ann Emerson(R,resigned)
NC-12:Mel Watt(D,appointed)
NJ-1: Rob Andrews(D,investigated)
SC-1: Tim Scott(R,appointed)

Newly-elected special elections 2013-2014:
AL-1: Bradley Byrne(R)
FL-13:David Jolly(R)
FL-19:Curt Clawson(R)
IL-2: Robin Kelly(D)
LA-5: Vance McAllister(R)
MA-5: Katherine Clark(D)
MO-8: Jason Smith(R)
NC-12: Pending Jul.15
NJ-1: Pending Nov.4
SC-1: Mark Sanford(R)
Won primary 2014:
GA-11:Barry Loudermilk(R)
MA-6 :Richard Tisei(R)
TX-4: John Ratcliffe(R)
VA-7: Dave Brat(R)

AL-6 :Gary Palmer(R)
AR-4 :Bruce Westerman(R)
CA-11:Mark DeSaulnier(R)
CA-33:Ted Lieu(D)
CA-35:Norma Torres(D)
CA-45:Mimi Walters(R)
CO-4 :Ken Buck(R)
GA-1 :Buddy Carter(R)
GA-10:Jody Hice(R)
IA-1 :Pat Murphy(D)
MI-4 :John Moolenaar(R)
MI-12:Debbie Dingell(D)
MI-14:Brenda Lawrence(D)
MN-6 :Tom Emmer(R)
NC-6 :Mark Walker(R)
NC-7 :David Rouzer(R)
NJ-12:Bonnie Watson Coleman(R)
NY-4 :Kathleen Rice(D)
OK-5 :Steve Russell(R)
PA-13:Brendan Boyle(D)
TX-36:Brian Babin(R)
UT-4 :Mia Love(R)
VA-8 :Don Beyer(D)

Retiring to run for Senate in 2014:
AR-4: Tom Cotton(R)
CO-4: Cory Gardner(R)
GA-1: Jack Kingston(R)
GA-10:Paul Broun(R)
GA-11:Phil Gingrey(R)
HI-1: Colleen Hanabusa(D)
IA-1: Bruce Braley(D)
LA-6: Bill Cassidy(R)
MI-14:Gary Peters(D)
MT-0: Steve Daines(R)
OK-5: James Lankford(R)
TX-36:Steve Stockman(R)
WV-2: Shelley Moore Capito(R)

Former Reps running for House in 2014:
CA-3: Doug Ose(R)
CA-31:Joe Baca(D)
HI-1: Charles Djou(R)
IL-10:Bob Dold(R)
IL-17:Bobby Schilling(R)
KS-4: Todd Tiahrt(R)
MI-4: Peter Konetchy(R)
MI-14:Hansen Clarke(D)
MS-4: Gene Taylor(D)
MT-0: Denny Rehberg(R)
NH-1: Frank Guinta(R)
NY-11:Vito Fossella(R)
NY-18:Nan Hayworth(R)
OH-7: John Boccieri(D)
PA-13:Marjorie Margolies(D)
TX-23:Francisco Canseco(R)
Lost primary 2014:
GA-11:Bob Barr(R)
MA-6: John Tierney(D)
TX-4: Ralph Hall(R)
VA-7: Eric Cantor(R)
MI-11:Kerry Bentivolio(R)

Retiring to run for State Office in 2014:
AR-2: Tim Griffin(R)
CA-35:Gloria McLeod(D)
ME-2: Mike Michaud(D)
PA-13:Allyson Schwartz(D)
VI-0: Donna Christensen(D)

Retiring effective Jan. 2015:
AL-6: Spencer Bachus(R)
AZ-7: Ed Pastor(D)
CA-11:George Miller(D)
CA-25:Howard McKeon(R)
CA-31:Gary Miller(R)
CA-33:Henry Waxman(D)
CA-45:John Campbell(R)
IA-3: Tom Latham(R)
MI-4: Dave Camp(R)
MI-6: Tom Petri(R)
MI-12:John Dingell(D)
MN-6: Michele Bachmann(R)
NC-6: Howard Coble(R)
NC-7: Mike McIntyre(D)
NJ-3: Jon Runyan(R)
NJ-12:Rush Holt(D)
NY-4: Carolyn McCarthy(D)
NY-21:Bill Owens(D)
PA-6: Jim Gerlach(R)
UT-4: Jim Matheson(D)
VA-8: James Moran(D)
VA-10:Frank Wolf(R)
WA-4: Doc Hastings(R)
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Page last updated: Nov 17, 2014