U.S. Senate Candidate Craig James says he’ll release his education plan this week. In an interview with KERA’s Shelley Kofler the sports analyst turned GOP candidate talked about elements of his plan. In this Spotlight on the Senate report, James says eliminating the U.S. Department of Education is at the top of his list.
James: From my standpoint in Washington, I'd get rid of the Department of Education.
Kofler: You would eliminate it?
James: That would be gone. The money is in the states’ hands and the states and local school districts determine how you educate your kids.
In calling for the elimination of the federal Department of Education, James is echoing numerous other conservative Republicans who want to minimize or end federal involvement in public schools.
Kofler: So if you eliminate the Department of Education does every state have its own standards or do you have national standards for our public schools?
James: How can someone tell us in any other location in this country what’s best for our kids. I live in Celina, Texas- small school district, small area, rural area. We know the makeup of our kids in Celina, Texas. Let us determine how to best educate them.
Kofler: So you want eliminate the national standards and have state standards.
James: Absolutely. To me there’s no reason to have national (standards).
Kofler: You want to get rid of No Child Left Behind?
James: It doesn’t make sense. It’s leaving everyone behind.
James has endorsed presidential candidate Rick Santorum who supports vouchers that would allow parents to use public tax money to pay for private schooling. Santorum has also generated headlines by calling President Obama a “snob” saying Obama thinks all Americans should go to college, which is not what the President has said.
Santorum was appealing to working-class voters in Michigan when he said that. James may be appealing to working-class Republicans in Texas when he says there’s been too much emphasis on college and not enough on learning trades.
James: What I want to do is stem the massive drop out rates we have in high school. (Let’s put) vocational skills education back in the high schools. Not everyone wants to go to college. Let’s not expect them to go there. That’s ok. But we need people to be prepared when they walk out of high school at 18 years of age. If they want to be a plumber, an electrician, if they want to get into culinary, if they want to be an EMT, if they want to work for the fire department, let’s help them prepare for life at 18.
In his interview James wasn’t specific about how his vocational education program would be implemented or how much money it might cost, but he seemed to think states like Texas would have vocational funds if the federal Department of Education is axed.
James: The money is around but the money stays in the hands of the states.