Marco Rubio Says Federal Education Department Is Unnecessary

| by Alexander Rubinstein

Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says America does not need the federal Department of Education.

Rubio made the comments on Sept. 1, at a town hall meeting in Carson City, Nevada. About 200 people gathered in the community center.

Rubio argued that the federal government’s recommendations to state and local governments become mandatory for federal funding.

“What starts out as a suggestion ends up being, 'If you want money from us, you must to do it this way,' and you will end up with a version of a national school board," Rubio said. "We don't need a national school board.”

Democrats pointed to Rubio’s expensive college education, which the federal government helped pay for by Pell Grants and Stafford Loans, both of which are administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

After Rubio was elected to the legislature in 2000, he owed about $150,000 in student loan debt, reported The New York Times.

“I honestly think we don’t need a Department of Education,” Rubio said. He argued that the department does administer some programs with merit, but he says they can be transferred to other agencies, reported US News.

“I do support curriculum reform,” Rubio said, drawing claps and cheers when he said he opposes Common Core education standards.

Curriculum reform should be done only at the state and local level, the presidential hopeful argued.

Rubio has previously said that if he gets elected, he would overhaul accreditation in higher education in his first 100 days in office. Accreditation is run by groups of colleges, not the federal government, although a university must be accredited to participate in federal financial aid programs.

Rubio also plans to introduce a bill to create a congressionally appointed panel that would put in place alternatives to accrediting agencies that could approve traditional colleges, collegelike programs and startup companies.

Nontraditional programs would get about $1.6 billion in Pell Grant money from the federal government every year under Rubio’s bill, reported Vox.

Rubio has said that his plan for accreditation reform would “expose higher education to the market forces of choice and competition, which would prompt a revolution driven by the needs of the students.”

Sources: US News, The New York Times, Vox / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr