Republican governors' policies on school choice, discipline and achievement are successes that can be shared nationwide, Montana Gov. Marc Racicot said yesterday.
"Innovation in welfare reform came from the states," Racicot said in the GOP's weekly radio address. "Now Republican governors have the same kind of insights to provide for education."
Racicot praised several of the nation's 31 Republican governors for their education achievements. They include Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, who made entire school districts independent of state control; Michigan's John Engler, who spearheaded a charter-school movement that includes more than 140 schools in that state; and George W. Bush for the increased passing rate of Texas students on their statewide subject tests.
GOP policies can help all children, he said.
For example, parents should be given more choices by expanding education savings accounts and creating charter schools nationwide.
"If a school fails to improve test scores for disadvantaged students, parents should have the flexibility to apply federal funding for their children toward tutoring, a charter school, or private school," he maintained.
To restore safety to classrooms, Racicot said Republicans want a "zero-tolerance" policy that would permit teachers to remove disruptive pupils, allow students in persistently failing schools to transfer to a safe school and enforce juvenile gun laws.
But several of those policies, particularly those involving public funding to help parents to send their children to other public or private schools, have been hotly debated in Congress. Earlier this year, moderate Republicans helped anti-voucher Democrats defeat a federal program that would have forced districts to let students in a failing or unsafe school transfer to a better or safer school.
However, Racicot said, Republican ideas are tested and proven. "Our next president need look no farther than the Republican governors of this nation," he said. "We have to deliver better education for our children. We have to produce better graduates for the coming demands of a new millennium--where the jobs and economy of America's future depend on them."