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Santorum: Public Education Is “Anachronistic”

Santorum: Public Education Is “Anachronistic”

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R) is feeling confident. So confident, in fact, that he put his opposition to public education on the record.

At an appearance in Ohio Santorum said the idea of schools run by federal government or by state governments was “anachronistic” and preached about the value of homeschooling. In Ohio Santorum said:

For the first 150 years, most presidents home-schooled their children at the White House, he said. “Where did they come up that public education and bigger education bureaucracies was the rule in America? Parents educated their children, because it’s their responsibility to educate their children.”

“Yes the government can help,” Mr. Santorum added. “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. And while those factories as we all know in Ohio and Pennsylvania have fundamentally changed, the factory school has not.”

To be fair to Santorum, there is plenty of room for improvement in our public education models. But to describe as “anachronistic” the idea of publicly subsidized education and then in the same breath laud the pre-industrialized world and its method of education in the year 2012 is as astonishing as it is revealing.

Santorum’s people were quick to “clarify” that the Republican presidential candidate was not opposed to public schools outright, but could not identify the “role” Santorum felt government should and should not play in public education. He’s come out as against public funding of schools at either the federal or the state level and certainly opposes government mandated curriculum.

So what role does that leave for publicly-funded education? The answer is none, obviously. Which, had he been pressed to elaborate on his position, would have been obvious.

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Photo from antony adolf via flickr.

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327 comments

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8:26AM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

Hello Silvestr V - glad to see folks still care about this.
It is unfortunate that so many people, not just in the U.S. but around the world continue to harbor such regressive tendencies rather than trying to be inclusive, engaging and progressive.
We are moving forward in time yet we have many that want to rant and rave and voice negative commentary. Why not positive debate, discussion and compromise to benefit all...?
I for one want to say, thanks for your thoughts.

2:47AM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

Santorum is anachronistic. He thinks we should go back to the seventeenth century.

12:25PM PDT on May 27, 2012

So the presidents home schooled all their kids for 150 years. You mean the people who had nannies, tutors and slaves?

Thomas Jefferson recognized the need for common, government funded schools. He tried to get it into the Amendments but failed. Among other things he believed:

1. that democracy cannot long exist without enlightenment.
2. that it cannot function without wise and honest officials.
3. that talent and virtue, needed in a free society, should be educated regardless of wealth, birth or other accidental condition.
4. that the children of the poor must be thus educated at common expense.


Of course the Republicans know this very well, which is why they are defunding and attacking the public school system every way they can instead of working with the other side to improve public education. If this isn't done, democracy will fail.

8:14AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Nothing is wrong with the concept of Public Education, as long as it's of high quality. Which does not seems to be the case in the US.

It is especially important that everyone received a good education in a Democracy (that's what our countries are supposed to be, right ?), since everyone takes part in decision making through voting.
A high quality, yet cost-efficient , non-dogmatic education for everyone is required (that means NOT HOME SCHOOLING) . To ensure those qualities, putting governments (as long as they are reliable...) in charge would make sense.
I do not thing we should give EVERYONE the same education (skills and interest vary a lot), but at least make sure that all children are given the same opportunities.

4:10PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

What premise would that be?

3:59PM PST on Feb 25, 2012

I actually like the initial premise. Too bad it got... er, um... Santorum on it.

12:51PM PST on Feb 24, 2012

open mouth, insert foot

1:29AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

No doubt you have data to support this specious claim, with respects to both effect and motive for cause.

BTW, just how was data re. literacy rates captured prior to the institution of public schools?

1:11AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Public education isn't an anachronism, it's just as good at reducing the level of education as it's ever been. That is it's purpose after all. Literacy and education was increasing rapidly so public schools were instituted to bribe the poor and ensure a source of free bad education for the poor, so they could not challenge the rich. That's why the growth in literacy slowed after the government got involved in education. Notice how India got literate after it's poor people GAVE UP on public education and went private?

9:32PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

Robert H., what question would you like for me to answer? Unlike L. B., LD. B., and that other guy from yesterday I've already forgotten, I am not, I repeat NOT, going to run from answering ANY question germane to the discussion or asked with respectful sincerity. Now go ahead, ask. I have a strong disdain for pussies like L. B. who ACTUALLY do what it is you say I do. Why would I want to be like him? Test me here, test me now, Robert. I yield the floor to you.

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