Gov. Walker Talks K-12 Education on the Campaign Trail in New Hampshire


Governor Walker, speaking during the New Hampshire Education Summit, told host and journalist Campbell Brown his focus as president would be to shift the power and money for education from Washington to the states. His health care rhetoric in recent days hit a similar anti-Washington note.

Moving control of education from the federal government, he said, would “empower the states to go out and be innovators.” He did not say specifically how he would he would make those changes if elected president. “Making that sort of move is going to take a fair amount of conversation,” he said.

And if that conversation means challenging his own party, if necessary, on topics such as No Child Left Behind, then OK. The governor said he “appreciates the intent behind it,” but considers NCLB another education barrier preventing states from taking control. “The best of intentions,” Walker said, “always build into something else out there.”

To emphasize his point of shifting control to states, Walker pulled a dollar from his pocket and asked if people would rather keep it close to their schools or send it to Washington where the federal government would “skim money off the top” before sending it back.

He said the Act 10 changes let school districts keep the best teachers rather than the most tenured and focus on education rather than concerns over unions. “When we did that, it was like a weight was lifted,” he said, adding, “They started worrying less about the union contracts and more about what was going on in the classroom.”

Walker also called himself a “huge advocate” for school choice and explained the change in his approach to Common Core. He said it wasn’t on his radar when he became governor, but he took notice about 2 ½ years ago when people started talking to his administration about it. That, he said, led to budget language removing the Common Core requirements for school districts. “I want high standards,” Walker said. “I just want them set at the local level.”

Walker also today was asked who his pick would be for secretary of education, or at least whose work inspires him. Even though he said it would be illegal for him to commit to anyone before the election, he mentioned school choice advocate Howard Fuller, professor of education at Marquette University, as the type of person who inspires others.

Fellow GOP candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie also spoke on education issues at the event.  You can see full videos of the conversations HERE.