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Rick Santorum Slams Education System, Will Home-School Children At White House

Santorum

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/19/2012 3:15 pm Updated: 02/19/2012 3:34 pm

In an appearance at an Ohio Christian Alliance event Saturday, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum called the viability of the public education system into question, the New York Times reports.

According to the Times, Santorum said that while the goverment has a place in education, its current role is overreaching.

"Yes the government can help,” Santorum said. “But the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home-school or have the little neighborhood school, and into these big factories, so we built equal factories called public schools."

The Los Angeles Times went on to say that, while industry has evolved, the U.S. public education system has remained "stuck in the factory era."

Santorum said that if elected, he intends to home-school his children at the White House -- a proclamation he's also made before.

"Most presidents home-schooled their children in the White House," Santorum said, according to the LA Times. "Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility.”

Santorum's comments are the latest in a series that express his less-than-rosy view of the American public school system. Campaigning in Idaho last Tuesday, he denounced heavy government oversight, noting that private and local education were the norm for "the majority of the time in this country," adding, "Parents actually controlled the education of their children. What a great idea that is."

But The New American's Michael Tennant points out that Santorum's rhetoric doesn't match his record:

"While serving in the Senate, Santorum voted to increase federal funding for teacher testing in 2001 and to give the Education Department a $3.1 billion raise in 1996. Perhaps most egregiously, he voted for the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which vastly extended federal control over the education system and now has grown so onerous that the Obama administration is handing out waivers to states that cannot meet its requirements."

Santorum's stance on minimizing the federal role in public education is shared across GOP platforms. Republican presidential hopefuls have repeatedly called for a diminished federal hand in public schools, often suggesting to ax the Department of Education altogether.

The Obama administration's implementation of Race to the Top aimed to lessen federal power over schools and offer states and districts more flexibility and options, but the program has still drawn skepticism from a range of critics. And as the administration has offered temporary relief to 11 states from No Child Left Behind, House Republicans are pushing ahead with a plan to update the federal education law that would give more control to states and school districts to determine whether and how students are learning.

In Ohio Saturday, Santorum also lashed out at Obama, saying the president's agenda on many issues, including public education, was based on a "phony ideology," Politico reports.

"[It's] not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology," Santorum said. "Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology, but no less a theology."

After reporters questioned the comment, Santorum stood his ground, saying the President Obama is "exercising his values and trumping the values of the church."

In November, Margaret Spellings, who served as education secretary under Bush, told the Associated Press that the anti-federal talk on education among GOP candidates concerns her. She said the candidates should be discussing ways to close achievement gaps and educate poor and minority kids.

"The federal role in education has always been around the needs of poor and disadvantaged kids, so I'd like to see the focus on that, I'd like to see talk of accountability," Spellings said.

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