Rubio: “We Don’t Need a Department of Education”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

While campaigning in Nevada on Tuesday, Marco Rubio briefly touched upon education, reiterating his opposition to Common Core and expressing skepticism of the need for a national Education Department:

“What starts out as a suggestion ends up being, ‘If you want money from us, you must to do it this way,’ and you will end up with a version of a national school board,” Rubio said. “We don’t need a national school board.”

[…]

Rubio said the [Education Department] administers certain programs that have merit but those could be transferred to other agencies. “I honestly think we don’t need a Department of Education,” he said.

The candidate drew claps and cheers when he told his audience he opposed Common Core education standards. “I do support curriculum reform,” he said, but that should be done at the state and local level.

Although Rubio is far from the only candidate to hint at closing the Education Department—Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul, and Rick Perry have all suggested this, among others—his voice is a welcome addition to the growing number of conservative leaders fighting the federal takeover of education policy.

To better lead that fight, however, Rubio will need to show that he fully understands the problems posed by Common Core and other federal education initiatives.  As Emmett pointed out in our Common Core Report Card, Rubio’s comments to date have fallen short of what parents are looking for because he has presented the problems facing them as hypotheticals rather than as real issues which need to be addressed here and now.

While these remarks are certainly a good first step, parents want to hear more from Rubio on what he would do particularly to return control over education to states and local communities.  It’s time to move beyond slogans and start talking about concrete solutions.

Paul Dupont is a legislative assistant for American Principles in Action.