In an interview I had with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) yesterday I asked her about her position on No Child Left Behind specifically and federal involvement in education in general. Transcript of that exchange below:
Me: “No Child Left Behind, President Obama says he wants to see that renewed and strengthened, what is your position and what do think the federal role in education should be?”
Congresswoman Bachmann: “I am not a fan of No Child Left Behind, I never have been. I oppose the federal government’s involvement in local schools. I attended great public schools in Iowa when I first started my education. I was here (in Waterloo) for kindergarten through sixth grade. They were great public schools because they were locally controlled and locally put together by our local schools… by our parents and by our teachers and local administrators. Now with the federal government taking more and more authority away from the local schools, it is very hard to have meaningful change in our schools. I would prefer to see the Federal Department of Education abolished and done away with, and instead I’d rather see parents and states keep the monies that are sent to Washington, D.C. It ends up in the bureaucracy.
Me: “What strategy would need to be implemented to abolish the Federal Department of Education? Because I can just see right now if moves are made to do that people would say, ‘Oh the children! You don’t care about the kids.’”
Congresswoman Bachmann: “Well it is about the children. The reason we would abolish the Department of Education is so we would have a better academic educational outcome for our children. Clearly, since the inception of the Federal Department of Education which was a payoff from former President Jimmy Carter to the teachers’ union we’ve actually seen declines in test scores since that time. So what we want is good academic achievement and true choice in education for America’s children. So the most positive thing we could do is to allow families to keep more of their own money and states to keep more of their own education money and eliminate the bureaucracy in Washington, DC.”
Me: “Yes, ok… People need to be reminded that kids were educated before 1977 when the Department was…”
Congresswoman Bachmann: “Yes that’s true and the test scores were far higher and the academic outcomes were higher.”