Jim DeMint on Education

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (SC-4)


Don't use education system to force my values on others

We, as values voters, want to make sure that our laws do not keep us from living, practicing our faith, raising our children the way we want, and we want to make sure that the policies of this country allow us to do that.

And that's why things like school choice are important. I don't want to use our education system to force my values on other people. But I want to make sure that if we're creating public funds for education, that they include those who want to put their children in schools where there is a worldview that represents our values and our faith, and it will raise kids in a way where they can be responsible citizens. That's not too much to ask.

Source: Speech at 2012 Values Voters Summit , Sep 14, 2012

Allow states to opt out of No Child Left Behind

The Senate Conservatives Fund has developed a questionnaire that we require candidates to complete before we consider an endorsement. A candidate's answers to these questions will reveal whether they consistently apply conservative principles to their positions on important issues.
Source: Senate Conservatives Fund in "Now Or Never", p.224 , Jan 10, 2012

NCLB should be called "More Children Left behind"

When Pres. Bush sought to improve public education through No Child Left Behind, he included more centralized federal control of public education. This frustrated many Republicans. But Bush's plan originally offered an option for states to agree to higher federal standards in return for the flexibility to run their own schools and develop their own education program. This would encourage states to compete for the best public education systems.

I was opposed to NCLB but believed the opt-out provision would allow some states to demonstrate better ways to improve their schools. But in order to gain Democrats' support, Bush was forced to give up the state flexibility provision.

Bush's compromise with Democrats to pass NCLB resulted in more centralized federal control over public education and, ultimately, more spending to maintain an education system that continues to become increasingly less competitive with the rest of the world. It should really be called "More Children Left Behind."

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.100-101 , Jan 10, 2012

Government-run schools can't instill morals and character

Poor-quality public education is a huge problem for America--and it is also a serious threat to freedom. Since the principles of freedom depend on the character and capabilities of individuals, the development and education of children are important goals for a free society--which also means education is simply too important to be conceded to the inefficient bureaucracy characteristic of our federal government.

Government cannot instill in children the character and discipline they need to become productive citizens. These must come from good parents and community-based schools that reflect the morals and principles individuals need to be successful in life.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.162 , Jan 10, 2012

A-PLUS Act: allow states to operate like charter schools

What if the federal government lets go of its near monopoly on public education? I am one of the sponsors of the A-PLUS Act, which has been introduced in both houses of Congress. This legislation would allow states to operate much like charter schools; they could agree to certain standards while still being allowed the flexibility to run their schools the way they want. Federal money would be block-granted to these charter states instead of being divided among multiple programs. If states don't meet federal standards, they would have to return to the federal regimen.

A-PLUS would allow states to be innovative and, more importantly, to adapt their schools to the needs of students.

Competition for the best schools would raise the standards for schools throughout the nation. This could be a revolution in improving the quality of education American students receive, while the size and cost of the Department of Education could be significantly reduced.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.163-164 , Jan 10, 2012

Vouchers lead to competition, not re-segregation

Democrats often argue that publicly funded education scholarships (that is, vouchers) would drain money from government schools and lead to the resegregation of schools. This is utter nonsense. With a portable scholarship program, government schools would have to become more competitive to be replaced by better, less expensive schools. But thankfully, school segregation is gone forever. This generation of American students is so far past the thought of segregation that for the overwhelming majority of America's youth, any hint of discrimination is repugnant. Liberals continue to raise the specter of institutionalized racism in places like public education, where strong modern attitudes against it will unquestionably prevent it from ever reemerging.

The government cannot create the system of specialized and individualized schools necessary to give every student the opportunity to succeed. Education freedom would help America's fiscal and economic problems now and in the future.

Source: Now Or Never, by Sen. Jim DeMint, p.165 , Jan 10, 2012

Devolve education to states without abolishing Department

Q: Sharron Angle wants to get rid of the Department of Education, is that a good idea?

DEMINT: I agree that we need to devolve a lot of power out of Washington.

Q; Getting rid of it completely, is that a good idea? No more Department of Education?

DEMINT: I can see a role of looking at best practices around the state. But the fact is pretty clear, since the federal government increased its involvement in the '60s, the quality of our education relative to the rest of the world has declined. And we spend more per student than any other country in the world. So I've introduced a bill to devolve a lot of power from the federal government back to the states.

Q: But that's not the same as abolishing it. A lot of money comes from the federal government.

DEMINT: Well, she's very bold to say it. The fact is, education would probably work a lot better without the Department of Education. You can do it in a common-sense, reasonable way that doesn't disrupt any of the activities that we support

Source: CNN "State of the Union" coverage: 2010 S.C. Senate debate , Sep 19, 2010

True socialists guard government-run education

Socialists use the perceived victim status of groups to promote a collectivist or group-oriented approach to government, even when government is responsible for the injustice. The contrast between America's social and political philosophies is the most distinct on this point. Those with socialist leanings generally push for group-oriented, universal, government-directed solutions to societal problems. Those who believe in freedom believe government should facilitate free choices and equal treatment for all individuals. I'll mention a few examples.

True socialists will jealously guard the universal, government-run education system and fight all attempts to create more choices with competitive, independent schools. That gives the government (and those who run the government) control over the values and beliefs of every generation. Freedom lovers believe parents should have many choices of schools, and the money spent on public education should follow students to the school of their choice.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 69 , Jul 4, 2009

NCLB: More spending but no appreciable quality improvement

Before the NCLB legislation came up for a vote in the House, the state flexibility provision was stripped. Bush agreed to drop it in return for Democrat support of the bill. I filed an amendment to add the provision back to the bill. Bush called me to th Oval Office. I was prepared for attempts to intimidate me into withdrawing my amendment. I wasn't prepared for the president to plead with me to help him avoid a "blood bath" over my amendment. He was afraid that is my amendment passed, the Democrats would not support the final bill.

The president promised that if I withdrew my amendment, he would make sure the state flexibility provision would be added back at some point. I agreed to withdraw the amendment. The president said "trust me" when he promised the provision would be added back, but it never happened. The result of NCLB was more federal control of education and a lot more federal spending but no appreciable improvement in the quality of America's government-run education system

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 25 , Jul 4, 2009

Parents are trapped unless they can afford private school

There is no constant effort to change and improve services in government schools and no danger that bad schools will be put out of business by competitors if their services are sub-par. Parents and students have little say about which services are offered. Unless they can afford a private school, they are stuck with whatever is provided by the school to which they are assigned by the central planners. Most parents are essentially trapped, and despite the best intentions of many school board members and administrators, most government schools reflect a "you'll take what we give you" mentality.

Pres. Bush thought the requirements to measure programs in No Child Left Behind would improve schools. They didn't. In fact, many teachers tell me the effort to "teach the test" in order to meet the requirements of NCLB is actually resulting in poor education. We are losing ground to practically every other industrialized country in the world.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 78-79 , Jul 4, 2009

1962 banning of school prayer also banned respect and honor

Prior to 1962, states regulated the interaction of church and state. Some states had churches supported with local taxes. For most of America's history, a generally constructive coexistence was in place between religious principles & the operation of government.

However, in the 1962 "Engel v. Vitale" case, the Supreme Court ruled against a New York school board requiring every class to start each day with a prayer. Unfortunately, the Court did more than ban God and prayer from public schools. It implicitly banned everything else included in the [daily prayer]: respect and honor for parents, teachers, and country. When the Supreme Court banned the teaching of respect for God, it effectively rejected the traditionalist worldview and replaced it with a secular-socialist worldview. The "Engel v. Vitale" case began a cascade of court decisions & legislative action at the federal level that have dismantled the "wall of virtue" that has served as the foundation of freedom in America for generations.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.152-153 , Jul 4, 2009

Apply faith; education is not government responsibility

Education is not a responsibility that can or should be delegated to the government.

Faith, virtue, and morality are essential elements of the character of individuals. Our government cannot instill these characteristics into our children. American should, therefore, demand the freedom to teach religious concepts and to apply the values derived from faith. Freedom of speech must include teaching and saying that some things are right and some things are wrong based on religious convictions and commo sense. We cannot allow our government to promote immoral destructive behavior or to classify religion-based moral opinions as "hate speech."

The development of faith and values begins at home, but parents should be able to send their children to school that reinforce their worldviews. Churches should consider how they could expand their ministry vision to include education and citizenship training. Faith without applications is meaningless, just as "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26).

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.238 , Jul 4, 2009

A-PLUS Act: step away from federal control via school choice

I am one of the sponsors of the A-PLUS Act, the Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success Act. It would give states more flexibility to improve their schools without federal interference. This legislation would allow states to operate much like a charter school operates within a local public school system. Under this legislation states would agree to meet certain standards but have the freedom to reach these standards in their own way. Federal money now divided into multiple program would be block-grante to states. If states do not meet the standards established in their charter, they have to return to the federal regimen.

The teachers' unions, and most Democrats have consistently opposed this idea. Central control of education is essential to their goals of central control of our culture. Those who want to decentralize the control of education support the A-PLUS Act as a simple and logical step toward creating a better education system through innovation, competition, and choice.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.240-241 , Jul 4, 2009

$5,000 per-student voucher to create private investment

The 2002 Supreme Court decision, "Zelman v. Simmon-Harris" confirmed that states have the right to provide vouchers for students to attend non-government schools. This landmark decision makes a clear distinction between "public education" and "government schools." Public education does not have to mean government-run, politically managed schools.

The Zelman decision means government and state legislators now have freedom to provide vouchers or tax credits for children to attend any school their parents choose--government, private, or religious. Considering most states now spend more than $10,000 per year for every child in government schools, even a $5,000 scholarship to independent schools would simulate the development of a wide range of new school choices.

Vouchers would encourage massive private-sector investments in America's education system. Rather than hurt public education, school choice would increase the number and quality of schools available to the public.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p.241 , Jul 4, 2009

Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Vote on the passage of the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Pres. Bush then vetoed the Bill.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority and duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-391 on Oct 23, 2007

Voted NO on $52M for "21st century community learning centers".

To increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st century community learning centers. Voting YES would increase funding by $51.9 million for after school programs run by the 21st century community learning centers and would decrease funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.
Reference: Amendment to Agencies Appropriations Act; Bill S Amdt 2287 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-279 on Oct 27, 2005

Voted NO on $5B for grants to local educational agencies.

To provide an additional $5 billion for title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. Voting YES would provide:
Reference: Elementary and Secondary Education Amendment; Bill S Amdt 2275 to HR 3010 ; vote number 2005-269 on Oct 26, 2005

Voted NO on shifting $11B from corporate tax loopholes to education.

Vote to adopt an amendment to the Senate's 2006 Fiscal Year Budget Resolution that would adjust education funding while still reducing the deficit by $5.4 billion. A YES vote would:
Reference: Kennedy amendment relative to education funding; Bill S AMDT 177 to S Con Res 18 ; vote number 2005-68 on Mar 17, 2005

Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror.

Children's Prayers Resolution: Expressing the sense of Congress that schools should allow children time to pray for, or silently reflect upon, the country during the war against terrorism.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Isakson, R-GA; Bill H.Con.Res.239 ; vote number 2001-445 on Nov 15, 2001

Voted NO on requiring states to test students.

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001: Vote to pass a bill that would authorize $22.8 billion in education funding, a 29 percent increase from fiscal 2001. The bill would require states to test students to track progress.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Boehner R-OH; Bill HR 1 ; vote number 2001-145 on May 23, 2001

Let schools display the words "God Bless America".

DeMint co-sponsored a Congressional Resolution on support for the Nation:

Title: Expressing the sense of the Congress that public schools may display the words "God Bless America" as an expression of support for the Nation.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HCR248 on Oct 12, 2001

Supports requiring schools to allow prayer.

DeMint co-sponsored a bill requiring schools to allow voluntary prayer:

H.R.1, S.73:

No DOE funds shall be available to any educational agency which prevents participation in constitutionally protected prayer in public schools by individuals on a voluntary basis. No educational agency shall require any person to participate in prayer or influence the form or content of any constitutionally protected prayer in such public schools.
H.Con.Res.199 (Nov 19, 1999, Bonilla et. al.)
Expressing the sense of the Congress that prayers and invocations at public school sporting events contribute to the moral foundation of our Nation and urging the Supreme Court to uphold their constitutionality.
H.J.RES. 54
Recognizing the authority of public schools to allow students to exercise their constitutional rights by establishing a period of time for silent prayer or meditation or reflection, encouraging the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, and refusing to discriminate against individuals or groups on account of their religious character or speech.
Source: H.R.1 01-HR1 on Jan 31, 2001

Rated 18% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes.

DeMint scores 18% by the NEA on public education issues

The National Education Association has a long, proud history as the nation's leading organization committed to advancing the cause of public education. Founded in 1857 "to elevate the character and advance the interests of the profession of teaching and to promote the cause of popular education in the United States," the NEA has remained constant in its commitment to its original mission as evidenced by the current mission statement:

To fulfill the promise of a democratic society, the National Education Association shall promote the cause of quality public education and advance the profession of education; expand the rights and further the interest of educational employees; and advocate human, civil, and economic rights for all.
In pursuing its mission, the NEA has determined that it will focus the energy and resources of its 2.7 million members toward the "promotion of public confidence in public education." The ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: NEA website 03n-NEA on Dec 31, 2003

Support the goals and ideals of Charter Schools.

DeMint co-sponsored supporting the goals and ideals of Charter Schools

Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.RES.344, H.RES.1168, S.RES.556; agreed to in Senate, by Unanimous Consent.
Source: S.RES.183 07-SR556 on May 1, 2007

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