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Steve Forbes on Education

2000 Republican Primary Candidate for President


Texas schools under Bush fell from 40th-ranked to 46th

FORBES [to Bush] On education you’ve dumbed down the standards to the point where in Texas your SAT ranking has gone from 40th in the nation to 46th. What can you tell the people of America that you won’t do in Washington what you’ve done in Texas?

BUSH: Because we have set high standards, abolished social promotion, got a vibrant charter school movement, got a public school choice movement. -we’re making the best progress in the nation for improvement amongst minority students.

FORBES: On SAT’s, Texas is one of the few states where minority scores have gone down-not up. Eighth-grade science tests in Texas shows a picture of four insects and says, pick out the fly.

BUSH: The test scores in my state. show dramatic improvement. Our SAT scores have improved since I’ve been the governor.

FORBES. Your ranking went down.

BUSH: Unlike many states, we make sure as many kids can take the SAT as possible. We include all kinds of children. We want our children in Texas to take the SAT.

Source: (X-ref to Bush) GOP Debate in Manchester NH , Jan 26, 2000

Federal involvement creates the crisis in our schools

Q: How much power do you think the federal government should have over state education? A: The more the federal government is involved in education, the greater an education crisis we will have. The key to education renaissance is to put parents-not politics-in charge of our schools. I’ll take that money from the education department, earmark it, block grant it back to states and municipalities with the provision that parents have true choice in picking their schools.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa , Jan 16, 2000

Supports teacher testing and merit pay

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 13, 2000

Apply “trust-busting” to education monopoly

Some of Teddy Roosevelt’s policies, such as trust busting, made particular sense for his time, but should be adapted in our day to such causes as breaking up government education and entitlement monopolies in favor of individual and parental choice and control.
Source: “A New Birth of Freedom,” p. 27-28 , Nov 9, 1999

Let colleges & churches create new urban schools

[We should] encourage colleges and universities to create innovative elemenary and secondary schools in America’s inner cities. Also encourage pastors, priests, and rabbis to open more faith-based schools in urban neighborhoods. This will help expand the supply of quality educational opportunities right where they are needed most. [The president should] veto and idea that takes money and control away from parents and teachers and puts it into the hands of the special-interest groups.
Source: “A New Birth of Freedom,” p. 50-51 , Nov 9, 1999

Support English immersion programs

[We should] support English immersion programs to help students learn to read, write, and speak English as quickly as possible.... English is the language of economic opportunity, here and around the globe. If you know English, the Information Age is your friend. But if you don’t, you’re stuck -- and in danger of being left behind.
Source: “A New Birth of Freedom,” p. 50-59 , Nov 9, 1999

Reforms should empower parents & teachers

Source: “A New Birth of Freedom,” p. 50 , Nov 9, 1999

Textbook illustrations on evolution “a massive fraud”

On teaching evolution, Forbes said the decision should be made at the local level and called textbook illustrations about evolution “a massive fraud.”
Source: Bruce Morton, CNN , Aug 27, 1999

Allow students to study Bible in schools

Protect people of all faiths - or of no faith - from encroachments by the state that violate their consciences and most deeply held beliefs. The Founders never intended the separation of church from state to become a separation of religion from public and civic life. There is no reason why a child should be denied the right to hold a Bible study before or after school, or write an essay about a Biblical figure during school.
Source: www.forbes2000.com “Moral Compass” , May 21, 1999

Columbine shooting shows need for morality in schools

Forbes said the Littleton, Colorado, shootings “underscore the need to be teaching our children morals and values obviously at home, but particularly in the schools now.”
Source: CNN , Apr 30, 1999


Steve Forbes on School Choice

Choice in education makes us more moral & more educated

I support true parental control of education. If you want to send your child to a parochial school, you should have the freedom to do so & the government should not stand in your way. If you want to homeschool your child, you should be free to do so & not have the whole bureaucracy on your backs with truancy. If you want your child in a secular school, go ahead. Freedom of choice for parents is absolutely critical. Then we’ll have a more moral people, a better educated people, and a stronger America.
Source: GOP Debate in Johnston, Iowa , Jan 16, 2000

More charters; vouchers at private & parochial schools

Source: 2000 National Political Awareness Test , Jan 13, 2000

Supports public school choice & private school choice

Public school choice and charter schools are essential to improving public education. That’s because most parents want to keep their children in the public school system-but they also eagerly want public schools to improve dramatically and respond to their needs and to the needs of their children. Private school choice is also important, especially for those parents who live in the inner city, where private and parochial education is high quality and low cost.
Source: “A New Birth of Freedom,” p. 52-3 , Nov 9, 1999

Home schooling: let parents teach without interference

The phenomenon of home schooling is a wonderful example of the American can-do attitude. Growing numbers of parents have become disenchanted with government-run public schools. Many parents have simply taken matters into their own hands, literally.. The real danger is the threat of new government restrictions aimed at hobbling the home schooling movement. We must guard against such Washington-knows-best interference and protect the freedom of parents to teach their children with excellence.
Source: “A New Birth of Freedom,” p. 61 , Nov 9, 1999

Supports tax-supported vouchers for religious schools

[In a speech to the Christian Coalition], Forbes embraced the coalition’s view on using tax-supported vouchers for private religious schools and said he wanted to end the role that federal government has in local education.
Source: Boston Sunday Globe, p. A28 , Oct 3, 1999

Parental control will work even in inner cities

Regarding school choice in poor neighborhoods: “Experts have told me, ‘you should see these parents. They’re single. They’re not equipped. They don’t know what they’re doing.’

[But] all it takes is two or three energetic parents to get a school system turned around. On a committee, it’s one or two people who energize it. Same thing you’ll see in parental control of schools. People do rise up from most unlikely sources. There’s no other way to do it. The top down approach hasn’t worked.”

Source: Speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government , Nov 27, 1995

  • Click here for 2 older quotations from Steve Forbes on Education.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014