Most of the action in the Republican primary has focused on Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, but Senator Ted Cruz started campaigning in Tennessee this week. During several campaign stops in Chattanooga and Franklin, Cruz promised to order the Department of Education to end Common Core “now” and discussed his plan for U.S. education policy in the future. According to USA Today, Cruz’s education platform seems to be paying off in enthusiasm:
Cruz took the stage a little more than an hour after he was scheduled to arrive.
But the crowd cheered and chanted Cruz’s name at various points throughout his talk.
“They were hungry for this,” Taleghani said. “They waited and waited and waited — no matter how crowded it got — they wanted to wait it out.”
In addition to his Common Core focus, USA Today also reports Cruz is planning meetings with homeschoolers later in the tour. That’s good, because some of the people listening to his message closest are homeschooling parents:
…Williamson County residents were joined by others from around the region, though, including Ana Batts, a Cheatham County mother of five children with another on the way.
Batts said she didn’t know much about Cruz before she headed out to the event. She heard about Cruz’s stop through a Facebook group for home-schooled families.
She said she was encouraged by the Texas senator’s ideas on education, which involve squashing Common Core and abolishing the U.S. Department of Education.
And Cruz, she said, seemed to be more focused than other candidates on “keeping the freedom to home-school.”
“I was impressed,” she said.
Still, she said, “I’m not completely sold — I want to hear more about the practical side.”
Before he headed on to Jackson, Cruz was set to meet privately with a group of home-schoolers, pastors and legislators, a campaign staff member said.
As he made his way through a crush of supporters, 11 1/2-year-old Tayler Smith of Dickson County stood on a chair and yelled above the din.
“Mr. Cruz!” she said. “Please make sure you protect home-schooling!’
“Absolutely,” Cruz responded, holding out his hand for a fist bump.
Cruz has been especially specific about how he would address education as President. That distinction in rhetoric versus action could make the difference in a crowded presidential race.
Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.