Carson: The Best Schools Are No Schools

When I wrote earlier today about the trajectory of GOP K-12 education thinking heading towards abandonment of public schools altogether, I wasn’t anticipating so quick a confirmation from the conservative base’s new heart-throb, Dr. Ben Carson. During the Q&A session following his pithy, red-meaty remarks, Carson was asked what he thought about Common Core, and he chose to make a plenary statement about education policy (per Politico‘s Nick Gass, and my own review of the video):

The best education is the education that is closest to home.

He meant that pretty literally, since he then said the best education was provided by homeschoolers, the second best by private schools, the third best by charter schools, and the worst by public schools. And then he issued this inversion of the usual meaning of “standards:”

“I do believe in standards,” Carson added, qualifying that the federal government shouldn’t play a role in setting them. “But those standards are set by people who are doing homeschooling, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing so well.”

This is reminiscent of Bobby Jindal’s insistence that he’s all for “accountability” in the use of public funds for education (which he wants to shovel out to kids attending religious schools), but that parents are the only proper judges of what’s right for their kids. So they can use your money however they want, even if it’s to send little Johnny to the Christian Boy’s Academy for Bible-Based Servant Leadership.

These people do not believe in public education in any meaningful sense of the term. And some of them seem hostile to schools outside the home.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.