GOP Candidates: Education Records and Rhetoric

I previously posted and highlighted statements on education (school choice and the role of parents) of GOP presidential candidates. Today, I want to look at the record of the candidates choices for themselves and their children and compare that to their rhetoric.

Jeb Bush: is a proponent for school choice and his Foundation For Excellence In Education has been an influential advocate for school choice and education reform. Bush attended Andover Academy, an elite private prep school that his dad and brother also attended. However, he opted to spend his undergrad years at the University of Texas rather than an Ivy-League school. Jeb’s oldest son attended an elite private school before going to Rice University for his undergrad. Jeb Jr. on the other hand, attended University of Texas like his father. For the Bush family, school choice means making use of both public schools / non-elite higher education institutions and the best of the elite private schools. In terms of voting record though, there is no doubt that Jeb walks the talk. Here’s an article detailing his voting record and education reform initiatives.

Ben Carson: is a proponent for school choice. [source] He graduated from Southwestern High School, a public high school in Michigan. His personal story regarding parental engagement in education and the role of his mother is powerful: if you’re not familiar with, you can read it here. He attended Yale for his undergrad. Ben Carson’s son Murray attended one of Baltimore’s elitist college prep schools, McDonogh, before attending Yal. [source]. Ben Carson has no voting record to speak of. However, he did create the Carson Young Scholars nonprofit organization which has a program devoted to increasing reading and awards college scholarship funding.

Chris Christie: is a proponent for school choice and has often struggled to push voucher legislation through the Democrat-controlled legislature. [source] He graduated from Livingston High School (public) and did his undergrad BA at University of Delaware. Christie’s oldest son attended an elite school Delbarton and is now studying at Princeton [source]. Christie has a track record of pushing for school choice such as approving charter schools and pushing for tax credits and voucher programs.

Ted Cruz: is a proponent of school choice, calling it a civil rights issue. [source] He graduated from Second Baptist High School and then did his undergrad at Princeton. Cruz has only recently (as in, this year) gotten into the school choice movement, including sponsoring school-choice friendly legislation. [source]

Carly Fiorina: is a verbal proponent of school choice. She graduated Charles E. Jordan High School (public) after spending time in schools in London and Ghana. She earned her BA from Stanford University.

Jim Gilmore: is a somewhat unenthusiastic proponent of school choice. He graduated from  John Randolph Tucker High School (a magnet school) before doing his undergrad at University of Virginia.

Lindsey Graham: is a proponent of school choice. He graduated D. W. Daniel High School (public) and was the first person in his family to attend college, he did his undergrad at University of South Carolina. Graham has supported school choice legislation like this as early as the 1990s. [source]

Mike Huckabee: is a proponent of school choice. He graduated from Hope High School (public) and attended Ouachita Baptist University for his undergrad. Huckabee has been inconsistent in regards to school choice [source], and appears to be less committed to it in practice.

Bobby Jindal: is a strong proponent of school choice. He attended Baton Rouge Magnet High School before doing his undergrad at Brown. Jindal has supported and fought for voucher programs in Louisiana. [source]

John Kasich: is a proponent of school choice. He attended various public schools and did his undergrad at Ohio State. As governor of Ohio Kasich has pushed through several school choice reforms including vouchers and funding for charter schools [source].

Rand Paul: is a proponent of school choice. He attended Brazoswood High School (public) and spent three years studying at Baylor University (he left before earning a BA.)

George Pataki: is a strong proponent of school choice. He attended Peekskill High School (public school) before doing his undergrad at Yale. His daughter Allison (a published novelist) attended high school at The Hackley School (an Ivy-feed school for Yale) before her doing her undergrad at Yale.

Marco Rubio: is a strong proponent of school choice [source]. The son of immigrants who never graduated from high school, he attended South Miami, a public Sr. High School  and did undergrad work at Tarkio College and Santa Fe Community College before getting his M.A. from the University of Florida and his J.D. from the University of Miami.

Rick Santorum: is a proponent of school choice. [source] He attended various private and public schools before graduating from Carmel High School, a private parochial school. He completed his undergraduate degree at Penn State. Santorum’s children have made use of homeschooling as well as charter schools. Given his rhetoric regarding not having government involved in education as well as thoughts on public funding, some saw him as duplicitous for enrolling his own children in a state-paid-for PA charter school even while his resided primarily in Virginia. [source]

Donald Trump: is a vocal proponent of school choice. He attended The Kew-Forest School and New York Military Academy. He did his undergrad years at University of Pennsylvania. His children have attended various prep schools including Choate Rosemary Hall and The Hill School and have done their undergrad studies at Georgetown and University of Penn.


Democrat Candidates: Education Records


A recent post recent post highlighted statements and voting record on education (school choice and the role of parents) of GOP presidential candidates. If you haven’t read that post, you can read it by clicking here. Today, I want to look at the history/record of the Democrat presidential candidates as well as their personal history of education to see how they match (or don’t) with their statements.

Lincoln Chafee: is wary of charter schools [source] and one of his main advisers, Diane Ravitch, is a harsh critic of school choice education reform. [source] He attended elite prep schools, including Andover (where he was a schoolmate of Jeb Bush). He did his undergrad at Brown University but also attended Montana State University. His daughter Louisa also attended Brown University. [source]

Chafee is hard to pigeonhole but it seems that he is not a proponent of school choice and is most likely opposed to vouchers, charters schools, etc..

Hillary Clinton: is opposed to school vouchers but is supportive of charter school. [source] Clinton graduated from Maine South High School (public) and attended Wellesley College. Her daughter Chelsea attended the elite Sidwell Friends School and did her undergrad at Stanford University.

Clinton is a firm advocate for public schools but also supports parents and parental choice. Her perspective on school choice is mixed.

Martin O’Malley: As mayor of Maryland in 2014, he celebrated National School Choice Week. [source] He has supported charter schools and voucher systems. [source] He attended Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School and Gonzaga College High School (Catholic, private) and did his undergrad at The Catholic University of America. Two daughters of O’Malley attended Georgetown University and College of Charleston [source] (previously attending Notre Dame prep school.)

O’Malley remains a proponent of school choice despite the general opposition of his party to school choice initiatives.

Bernie Sanders: is not a proponent of school choice and has opposed vouchers. [source] He graduated high school from James Madison High School (public) before doing his undergrad at the University of Chicago.

Sanders is opposed to school choice initiatives.

Jim Webb: is not a proponent of school choice and opposes vouchers. [source] He did his undergrad at University of Southern California. Webb’s children attended public school. [source]

Webb has not engaged with education reform in general but is opposed to school choice initiatives.

GOP Primary: Trusting Parents In Education (School Choice)


The GOP isn’t necessarily seen as a united party at the moment. It’s hard to find a single issue where the 15 Republican presidential candidates actually agree. However, there is one message that is being consistently stated by candidates from Bush to Paul to Carson. That message has to do with education:


Take a look at what has been said. (Bold added for ephasis)

Jeb Bush: “The best solution to our nation’s failing educational system is empowering parents.” [Source]

Ben Carson: ““Education that is closest to home, local education, seems to be the most effective education. So I would tend to be much more in favor of education that is controlled at a state level and by local municipalities—and in which the parents have a much greater say about what is happening with their children.” [Source]

Chris Christie: ” I think parents are better suited to make decisions about their children’s education than union leaders.” [Source]

Ted Cruz: “Every parent has a right to educate his or her children.” [Source]

Carly Fiorina: ““Parents play incredibly important roles in a child’s education, and any successful education reform plan must embrace and encourage robust parental involvement.” [Source]

Jim Gilmore: ‘Parents should have options to home-school their children or perhaps get support in sending them to private school.’ [Source]

Lindsey Graham: “Education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials, and states.” [Source]

Mike Huckabee: “I am steadfast in my belief that parents—parents—should ultimately decide the best venue for their children’s education.” [Source]

Bobby Jindal “Instead of the child following the dollars … we make the dollars follow the child … because we trust parents not bureaucrats to make the best decisions for our kids.” [Source]

John Kasich: “And there will be more. More school choice, giving families more control over how and where to educate their kids, including technical and vocational education.” [Source]

Rand Paul: “The responsibility for education ultimately lies with the parents and education is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their children. I believe that parents should be empowered to take an active role in their children’s education.” [Source]

George Pataki: ““One of the things I fought for but couldn’t get was an education tax credit, where we could take a part of our taxes and use it to help students to learn better— whether it was with additional support in the public system or paying for education outside in the private or parochial system.” [Source]

Rick Perry: “I see an education system that is the envy of the world, controlled by parents and the people according to the beliefs of the communities in which they live.” [Source]

Rick Santorum: “How about early parent intervention with their children? Instead of focusing on the child and getting them out of the home and into an educational setting, how about focusing on the parents and trying to get the parents more interested and involved? Parents are the first teacher.” [Source]

Marco Rubio: “We need to allow charter schools and other innovative schools to flourish. The key to that is empowering parents. Parents should be the ultimate decision makers on where their children go to school.” [Source]

Donald Trump: “And we’ve got to bring on the competition—open the schoolhouse doors and let parents choose the best school for their children.” [Source]

Scott Walker – I trust parents to make the right choice for their children and I want to help them have as many quality choices as possible.” [Source]

This post looked at the rhetoric of the candidates but do their actions support their rhetoric? My next post will look at the actions of these candidates to see how they compare to the statements.

“Show Up Politics: Getting Involved in your local Political Process

One of the talks I give to both adults and teens is entitled “Show Up Politics: Getting Involved in your local Political Process”. Many individuals feel that they are powerless when it comes to influencing politics. People wonder, “does my vote actually matter” and “can I actually change anything?” In this talk, addressed to teens and adults, I share that yes, you do matter!  The reality is that individuals have the power, the opportunity, and the responsibility to help shape their local communities. Read below to see a description of the talk and check out my civic engagement blog series over at the Demme Learning Blog.

Talk description

Growing up, my parents would take me and my brothers along with them when they voted. I remember the old-fashioned lever voting machines in the booths. Seeing my parents engaged in the political process played a very significant role in my life. Now, all these years later, I have put those acquired values to work, serving my local community in many roles, most recently as a township supervisor.

In this talk, I draw from my experiences to provide inspiration and practical tips for civic engagement. You and your whole family can make a difference in your local community; learn why local politics matters and why showing up is the most important step.

A Highlight From Tocqueville:

Civic Life

“Municipal institutions constitute the strength of free nations. Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people’s reach, they teach men how to use and how to enjoy it. A nation may establish a free government, but without municipal institutions it cannot have the spirit of liberty.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (Chapter V)

For More Information:

If you are interested in inviting me to speak on this or any of my other topics just email