Rand Paul in Chicago: School choice is 'the great equalizer'
April 22nd, 2014
04:12 PM ET
8 years ago

Rand Paul in Chicago: School choice is 'the great equalizer'

(CNN) – Continuing his outreach to minority voters, Sen. Rand Paul told an audience in Chicago Tuesday that the debate over school choice is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue, but a fight between the "dead-enders" and "those who believe in innovation."

"We've been trying the same thing with education for 50-100 years, and education particularly in our big cities has been a downward spiral," the Kentucky Republican said. "So just throwing money at the problem hasn't fixed the problem."

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Paul argued that education is "the great equalizer," saying more competitive school systems would result in a level playing field and give everyone a chance at economic success.

His comments came during a forum on school choice hosted by the Illinois Policy Institute and held at the Josephinum Academy, an all-female Catholic high school that has a population of mostly non-white students and represents 37 zip codes.

As Paul considers a 2016 presidential campaign, he's been actively traveling across the country and reaching out to nontraditional Republican voters. He's addressed historically black universities, and he's working with President Barack Obama's administration on trying to lower sentences for nonviolent drug convictions, an issue that resonates in the African-American community.

School choice and voucher programs have been a popular issue backed by Republicans, and high-profile figures like Paul and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, have especially been vocal on the topic. They say it would encourage more school competition and create better opportunities for inner city students.

Opponents of school vouchers say public money should not be used to fund private schools. Others argue that such a system would discriminate against students with disabilities, as some private schools are not equipped to teach students with special needs.

Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee–where Paul is heading Wednesday for another forum on school choice–are two cities that have experimented with a publicly funded school voucher system.

Obama argued in January that the effort in Washington has failed. "When you end up taking a look at it, it didn't actually make that much of a difference," he said in an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly.

A report from the U.S. General Accountability Office last year showed that the agency that runs the program in Washington lacks the "financial systems, controls, policies, and procedures" to make sure the funds are being spent legally, despite spending $152 million in federal funds since 2004 on more than 5,000 students from low-income families, the Washington Post reported.

But Paul said Washington should stay out of local education decisions. He's in favor of a system that would allow families to use their taxpayer money to choose any kind of school–public, private or charter. He added that he's sending his own son to an all-male school.

"The money's yours," he said. "It's not the government's money."

Filed under: 2016 • Rand Paul
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Lawrence Welk

    Sorry Rand, blacks and Latinos do not trust you or any other GOP boot licker.

    April 22, 2014 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    And by "equalizer" he means "equalizing" the absence of bible-oriented and conservative ideological programming in public schools that are tethered to teaching history and reality, instead of whackadoo nonsense like "Jefferson believed this is a Krischun Nashun."

    You don't want public funds going to pay for abortions? Fine. We compromised on that. Well, I don't want public funds being spent via vouchers to indoctrinate children into believing that Genesis is an equally legitimate theory to the what physic tells us and that the world is 6,000 years old, was at one time shared by man and dinosaurs at the same time and that evolution is just a fancy way of trying to disprove the existence of God. Enough is enough. And if you don't believe that's PRECISELY what they're pushing with this crap, then look at the numbers in places like LA and where the public funding is going and what those schools are teaching. It's absurd. It's nothing more than the social- conservatives in the GOP/Teatrolls trying desperately to raise themselves a share of the next generation, because they're rapidly losing it when the next generation is exposed to science and math and historical fact.

    April 22, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. Stating the Obvious

    A report from the U.S. General Accountability Office last year showed that the agency that runs the program in Washington lacks the "financial systems, controls, policies, and procedures" to make sure the funds are being spent legally, despite spending $152 million in federal funds since 2004 on more than 5,000 students from low-income families, the Washington Post reported.

    Translation: Corrupt liberal thieves stole the money and sabotaged the program. Yes, they truly care about the kids. How low can you get lefties?!!

    April 22, 2014 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  4. Chris-E...al

    If someone purposely sets out to hurt betray or to take from that is truely not about me its about them and their morals . Many times someone may have low self esteem of worth well then get out and find you something to do and stop being burdensome if you can and are ABLE to . Just stop blameing This one or that one your betraying yourself .

    April 22, 2014 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  5. Dead Bear

    I see the Condescension Tour knows no bounds. How about not talking to minorities like they're children and they might actually think about voting for you... Poor guy! He and Ted Cruz have split the vote amongst the tinfoil hat wearing types. Not enough of those to go around, eh Rand?

    April 22, 2014 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Tommy G

    Democrats have been running Chicago forever. Why are Chicago schools failing? Darn I just LOVE Jeopardy!!

    April 22, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Tampa Tim

    Chris – Who are you blaming for this?

    April 22, 2014 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    The one thing we are absolutely learning to be true, is that liberals have been brain washing kids in public school, in their political ideology for several decades now.

    Now we see why we should NOT limit ourselves to ONLY public schools.

    April 22, 2014 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Tampa Tim

    Stating – Over a 10 year period makes it $15.2 million a year for 5000 students, or $3000 per student per year on the average. Some districts spend 3 times that per student annually.

    April 22, 2014 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  10. Thomas


    Obama , why did you sell out .

    The FCC is for the people .

    April 22, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. Grooveman

    So public schools have been failing our youth for decades and people still think public schools are a good idea? Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way over and over & expecting a different outcome. In a free country, parents should have the right to send their kids to the school they think would do the best job of educating their children and giving them a chance to compete in life with the rich who send their kids to private school. After all, it's their money and they should be able to decide how it's used for education, not some bureacrat who doesn't know your kid or their needs.

    April 22, 2014 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    -–this guy does not know as to what he is talking most of the times. The main problem is NOT the teachers–it is Parents. They do not care. For six or eight hours–school has responsibility to keep the kid, Teachers are are baby-sitters. This is a trend. This needs to change. To change–lot of effort is involved. If a parent works for Retail–she has to stand eight hours–whether there is customer or not. Goes home, tired, not focus on kids–lets kid go loose, play Video–not home-work nor read. Pathetic nation turning Greed. Kids are future–focus.

    April 22, 2014 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. tom l

    Your latest diatribe is like a massive conspiracy. I think that if you ask President Romney, you should check the school system at Area 51.

    OOORRRRR, you can see how the public school system has failed the students – especially those in the....wait for it....inner city!!!! Look at the LAUSD and see how top heavy they are with "administrators" who steal our public money and build huge offices in high rises and then spend massive amounts of money on a new school that became the most expensive school ever built. What's amazing to me is how blindly partisan you are. Charter schools have proven to give better education and preparation for their students than public schools. There's no arguing that. Private schools are obviously superior. Why would you not want a mother/father choose where to send their kids to school rather than being forced into an underperforming school that doesn't care about the students at all? Here's a chance to help these kids but you go with the conspiracy theory as to why they want vouchers. Way to go champ. Congrats. Area 51 High School has an awesome football team so you should be stoked. You're such an enabler of divisiveness you should be ashamed of yourself for the damage you do day in and day out. How do you sleep at night?

    April 22, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Let's make this simple with an analogy:

    Vouchers = The GOP/Teatrolls, social conservatives and Chsristian fundies' answer to generational demographic problems the GOP/Teatrolls are having. They're losing the next generation...the numbers don't lie...and they know it. So, they want public funding diverted to things like ridiculously religious curriculums or history curriculums that whitewash separation of church and state.

    Just as

    Voter suppression = The GOP/Teatrolls, social conservatives and Christian fundies' answer to demographic shifts with respect to the rapidly growing minority population and their similarly rapidly growing political power.

    April 22, 2014 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |