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Jesse Ventura on Education

Former Independent MN Governor


Evolution for science teachers & Creation for Sunday school

Another of the religious right's scams is marching into public science classes and trying to mandate teaching of "creation science," as opposed to evolution. Somehow, they put evolutionism and creationism in the same category--believing that one makes the other impossible. But aren't these two separate systems of knowledge? One is a scientific theory, the other is a religious doctrine. It's kind of like comparing the law of gravity to the Sermon on the Mount. Evolution doesn't pretend to disprove the Bible's version of creation, or the belief in an all-powerful being as "prime mover" and measurable. It's open to all possibilities, unlike creationism, which is a closed book. So leave evolution to the science teachers, and creation to the Sunday school of the parents' choosing.
Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.186-187 , Apr 1, 2008

Requiring the Pledge of Allegiance brainwashes students

When the MN legislature passed a Pledge of Allegiance bill that would have required public school students to recite the Pledge, I had my veto pen ready again. That was the way my 4th and final, legislative session ended. Let me expand on my reasoning a little bit. Take the "under God" part of the Pledge. If there is a child in school whose parents are atheists, why should there be a reference to God that they are forced to say? Yet what kid won't do so, rather than face that pressure from their peers if they refuse?

Especially at these young ages, I call it brainwashing to make it mandatory to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. If a teacher wants to make this part of the classroom, all they need to do is simply say, "You know, I'm very patriotic. And every morning when you come into class, I'm going to stand up and say a Pledge of Allegiance to my country. You're welcome to join me if you'd like."

Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.187-188 , Apr 1, 2008

Focus on results and standards

    Three tough questions were posed by the new Governor:
  1. How do we get the bang for our buck on education spending (developing a formula that is based on results, not micro-management at the classroom level)
  2. What is the state’s role with clearly spelling out standards and then putting accountability at each level, starting with parents and including local districts (governance and accountability) and,
  3. How can we promote the use of what we already know we should do, but too often don’t do (using best practices across disciplines to better align K-12 and human services, health, housing, transit, and other state investments)?
The goal is simply this: to ensure the best public education for every child in Minnesota, and an optimal representative governance structure that delivers results.
Source: The Big Plan: Healthy, Vital Communities , Dec 10, 2000

Lifelong learning; college & training for work & life

Minnesota’s accessible, vast network of opportunities for continuing informal and formal higher education is the envy of the nation. In the year 2000, a vast majority of Minnesotans will have unlimited access to learning options via the Internet. Employers struggling to find and retain qualified workers in a time of full employment value and invest in job training more than ever before. Changing demographics are provoking new demands for learning among people for whom English is not a first language, for senior citizens, and for mid-career professionals seeking new challenges in work and life. The next questions relate to maintaining the infrastructure, making tough decisions to place programs where they are actually needed to serve populations, and surfing the wave of change that technologies like CD-ROM, interactive videodisk, and the Internet provide.
Source: The Big Plan: Self-Sufficient People , Dec 10, 2000

More money for class size reduction

The first thing I learned about was class size reduction -- so in my first legislative session that became a priority. We doubled the amount of money devoted to reducing class sizes in grades K-through-3, totaling $173 million. I learned that school districts had been under-funded for the last 10 years -- so we added more than $800 million to the K-12 budget, the biggest increase ever in Minnesota.
Source: Speech to Education Commission of the States , Jul 10, 2000

Public schools can’t advocate religion; private prayer OK

By being so afraid to go anywhere near a religious event or topic, the government soon begins to look like it’s discouraging religious practice. The issue over school prayer is a prime example of how sticky this can get. The Supreme Court has repeatedly said no to public school systems that have tried to start their school day with a reading from the Bible or a nondenominational prayer-as well they should: Public schools have no business using their authority to advocate religion. But how far do you take that? Do you want to say that nobody can pray if they’re inside a public building, in case they might offend somebody?

If you go tell a bunch of school kids they’re not allowed to pray when they feel like it, you’re directly violating the “free exercise” clause. I bet we could reach some middle ground. How about a “quiet room,” that could function as a nondenominational chapel?

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.107-11 , Jul 2, 2000

Teach “creation science” in church, not schools

The Right’s big scam is going into science classes in public schools and trying to replace evolution science with what they call “creation science,” as if there could be such a thing. The Right argues that by teaching kids evolution instead of creation, public schools are undermining kids’ religious beliefs. They see evolutionism and creationism as somehow being equivalent kinds of knowledge, so that one cancels out the other. That’s bull.

Evolution and creationism are two totally separate systems of knowledge. One’s a scientific theory, the other is religious doctrine. Creationism is based solely on the Bible. Whereas science has to be open to all possibilities, creationism is totally closed to that possibility that what it has to say isn’t correct.

Both evolutionism and the biblical version of creation are powerful, but only when properly used. I believe we need BOTH kinds of knowledge. But we should leave evolution to the science teacher, and creation to the Sunday school teacher.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.108-10 , Jul 2, 2000

Fund schools at state level instead of via property taxes

Our property tax code is almost as much of a mess as our income tax code. Here in Minnesota, the Commissioner of Revenue has been conducting town meetings all over the state to find out what people feel are the worst trouble spots in the tax system. More than anything else, people want to see their property taxes reformed. We have to make sure we find another source of money to pay for schools.

When the bulk of education money comes from property taxes, schools get funded unevenly. Where property tax collections are high, the schools have a lot of money. Where they are low, some schools don’t get the money they need to operate properly. It’s not fair to kids. Children in poor neighborhoods need a good education as much as kids in wealthy neighborhoods do. If we switched from property taxes to a more level source of funding, we could even things out among school districts, and shorten the gap between the haves and the have nots.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.212 , Jul 2, 2000

Mainstrean special-ed kids, like his daughter did

My daughter Jade has a form of epilepsy based on an inability to metabolize vitamin B6, which is important for the central nervous system. At age 1, a doctor put Jade on massive doses of B6, and sure enough, her seizures stopped.

Jade still has to take daily doses of vitamin B6. She’s a special-ed kid, and my wife and I have fought to keep her in the mainstream with her classmates. She’s the reason I’m a big advocate of mainstreaming special-ed kids-I’ve seen the miracle it’s worked on Jade

Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p.156 , Jan 1, 1999

Reducing class size solves many educational problems

There’s hardly a more effective way to solve the problems we face in our educational system than to reduce class size. A ratio of no more than 17 students per teacher ensures more 1-on-1 contact, better classroom discipline, you name it.

We have already allocated the money to reduce class size. Our problem is that there are too many loopholes in the program: You can’t earmark the money for class-size reduction and then leave any loopholes for the legislature to spend it for anything else.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 28 , Jan 1, 1999

Mainstream disabled students

The best chance disabled students have for productive adult lives comes from being mainstreamed among other students. My daughter Jade is living proof of that. She has a disability, but we have made sure that she has gotten the same kind of exposure as other kids her age. There are a few exceptions; there are students whose special needs are such that mainstreaming won’t work for them. But in the majority of cases, mainstreaming should be supported, encouraged, and facilitated for disabled students.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 30 , Jan 1, 1999

Commonsense steps to improve public education

    To improve public schools:
  1. Expect all children to read by the end of first grade.
  2. Reduce primary class sizes, K-3.
  3. Improve math & science achievement through problem-solving in real-life learning experiences.
  4. Encourage greater parent participation in school-improvement efforts.
  5. Encourage more school-community partnerships to provide volunteer tutoring, mentorships, community service, internships, and school-to-work programs.
  6. Support school and community initiatives to prevent acts of violence.
  7. Encourage all junior-high-school students to take a class about parenting and family responsibility.
  8. Provide for professional staff development to improve curriculum instruction.
  9. Provide a curriculum that reflects cultural diversity.
  10. Wire every classroom to the Internet.
  11. Provide programs for after school and during the summer.
  12. Develop high expectations.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 26-7 , Jan 1, 1999

No government money for higher education

Students shouldn’t simply be handed a free pass to higher education. They should have to work for it. They should at least contribute a significant amount to their tuition through part-time jobs. If they’re smart enough to get in, they’re smart enough to figure out a way to make it work. Part of our problem in this country is that we’ve lost our respect for higher education. We take it for granted because it comes so easily. We don’t value the things that are handed to us the way we value something we’ve put a lot of sweat and sacrifice into. If we insist that students make an investment in their own educations, they’ll get more out of them in the long run.

Students often approached me about state-paid tuition while I was out campaigning. After I explained to them that if the state pays their tuition now, they will pay higher taxes to pay other people’s tuition for the rest of their lives, most of them ended up agreeing with me.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 31 , Jan 1, 1999


Jesse Ventura on School Choice

Erase the word voucher from the vocabulary

“I want to erase the word voucher from the vocabulary,” were Governor Ventura’s words in his first State of the State address. By these words, he focused the responsibility for delivering results squarely on every parent, every teacher, every administrator, and every school board member in Minnesota to do what is right for every child. The K-12 initiatives will involve numerous agencies in new discussions of how to improve student achievement.
Source: The Big Plan: Healthy, Vital Communities , Dec 10, 2000

Public dollars belong to public schools

We eliminated the word “vouchers” from our vocabulary. Public dollars belong to public schools. We’ve fought to uphold a controversial set of high standards that redefines what it means to be educated. We insisted that students need to pass high stakes standards in order to prove they have learned something.
Source: Speech to Education Commission of the States , Jul 10, 2000

Loosen federal control; leave more to state & locals

The federal government needs to leave more of the management of public schools up to state and local governments. A rubber-stamp, “franchise” approach to schooling simply doesn’t work. What works best for one school district isn’t necessarily going to work best for another. The federal government needs to loosen its control of public schools and leave more of the decision making up to local teachers and administrators, who have firsthand knowledge of what their students need.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 29 , Jan 1, 1999

Neighborhoods shouldn’t abandon their public schools

[When I considered moving to Hollywood, I was told], “You put your kids in private school.” I thought, “I’m not living in a place where my kids have to go to private school.” I’m not knocking private schools, but I owe it to my kids to let them grow up in a place where private school isn’t required. They’re only in school 6-8 hours a day; they have to live in their neighborhood 24 hours a day. I didn’t want them growing up in a place where anybody with the means had abandoned their public schools.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p.183-4 , Jan 1, 1999

Public schools are inefficient; but fix them, don’t end them

I am a proud product of the Minnesota public school system. Instead of giving families vouchers, tax credits or deductions to help their children get into private schools, I believe we should be supporting our public school systems. A recent survey showed that 72% of the respondents preferred improving public schools to vouchers. 21% wanted vouchers and 7% were unsure. When a good system becomes inefficient or ineffective, the best solution is not necessarily to just get rid of the system. The best solution is to identify the problem areas and promptly implement solutions to fix them. Instead of bashing our public school system, we should be identifying what works and why it works. We should then be copying or adapting that solution in the problem areas. If the parents, businesses and communities all work together to support our teachers and schools, we can conquer the problems.
Source: 1998 campaign web site, jesseVentura.org/98campaign , Nov 1, 1998

Choosing private school includes responsility to pay

Q: Do you favor charter schools, vouchers and private sector involvement in schools?

A: I grew up in South Minneapolis and am a product of the public school system. I believe in supporting the public schools. If individuals don’t want to go to the public schools, they have the choice to go to private schools. But it is their responsibility to pay for that option, not taxpayers.

I place much of the blame that falls on the public schools today on the parents. If your kid is 12 or 13 years old and doesn’t know how to read, where have the parents been? Why didn’t they figure out that their kid can’t read when the kid was in first or second grade? Why weren’t they in the schools doing something about it then, instead of blaming the schools now?

As Governor, I will say no to vouchers and no to public tax support for private schools. I will work to strengthen the public schools. And I will work to get parents more involved in the education of their kids.

Source: E-Democracy Debate , Feb 10, 1998

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Page last updated: Oct 09, 2013