Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reflections on the Debate (Johnston, Iowa)- No. 4

The responses to debate questions by the candidate once a dark horse and now arguably the leading GOP aspirant (i.e., apparently ahead in the first state, Iowa) reflect a sharp political mind of another politician from Hope, Arkansas. However, in the Repub Presidential debate of October 12, 2007, the former Governor tried to have it both ways in a question about the role of the federal government in education- and was called on it by Tom Tancredo. Here is Huckabee's statement:

First of all, the whole role of education is a state issue. It's not really a federal issue. And the worst thing that we can do is to shift more burden, more responsibility, more authority to the federal government when more of it needs to go to the states.
But I think the federal government can play a pivotal role in -- primarily in helping to make sure that the best practices that are working in the states are shared with states who are struggling. Let me give you a couple of examples of what has to happen in all the states, and the federal government can at least share the data and the information.
One, personalize the learning for the student. We have 6,000 kids every day drop out in this country. They don't drop out because they're dumb; they drop out because they're bored to death. They're in a 19th-century education system in a 21st-century world. If we really are serious, then first of all we make sure that we build a curriculum around their interests rather than just push them into something they don't care.
Second thing, unleash weapons of mass instruction. I'm a passionate, ardent supporter of having music and art in every school for every student at every grade level -- (applause) --

Pretty amazing. Huckabee, playing to a Repub electorate, claims "the worst thing we can do is to shift more burden, more responsibility, more authority to the federal government." Moments later, playing to the educated, sophisticated audience which likely dominated the auditorium of the debate (and to the larger American audience), he asserts being "a passionate, ardent supporter of having music and art..."

Tom Tancredo would have none of it, noting "but you can't, I don't think, Governor, with all due respect, you can't say on one hand, you're against having government intervention and on the other hand, tell us that you want music and art and everything else in the school. That's not the job of a president. It is the job of a governor." One or the other, Governor- states' rights or a bigger federal role in art and music education.

And the moderator could have asked Mr. Huckabee, eager to apportion more class time to art and music, where, given a school day of determinate length, he intended to cut- gym, math, schience, history, or English. Still, it is so rare that a Repub conservative makes sense- and even more rare that a rival is able to counter a claim by Huckabee- that I couldn't resist its mention.

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