Mike Huckabee on Education
Republican AR Governor
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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