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How a Libertarian Looks at Education: Where Gary Johnson Stands

How a Libertarian Looks at Education: Where Gary Johnson Stands

Former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson is a fixture in news this week after cinching the Libertarian nomination at the party convention in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.

His nomination raises the question for those of us who are concerned about the future of our country’s education under the next president- where does Johnson stand on education as a candidate representing the Libertarian party?

According to Forbes contributor Maureen Sullivan, Johnson has been the most outspoken on his education views when it comes to the Department of Education, school vouchers and competition to raise salaries and inspire the best and brightest teachers.

Johnson is one of the biggest proponents for school vouchers that is currently working in the political sphere. As governor, Johnson proposed a plan for every state student to receive a $3,500 voucher to attend whatever school their family wanted.

To critics who say voucher programs deplete resources from public schools, Johnson argued public schools would be receiving more funding under the system for less students to manage.

Johnson has in the past spoken a lot about competition in education; he argues that competition makes things “better and better” and therefore should exist in all aspects of public education.

"I believe that we should treat K-12 education more like higher education. The reason higher education in the US is the best in the world is because these institutions compete with each other for tuition dollars. We need that same competition in public education,” he once said.

”Public schools will get better if they have to compete.”

But Johnson does not want a Department of Education to oversee this idea of universal school voucher programs or increased competition.

If elected, Johnson has promised on several occasions to abolish the Department of Education due to ineffectiveness and a failure to properly give states funding for schools.

"Look, just leave the states alone. What people don’t realize is by leaving the states alone, the states will actually have more money. People also think the Department of Education was established under George Washington when it fact the federal Department of Education was established under Jimmy Carter. Tell me anything that’s been value added about the Department of Education since the Eighties,” Johnson said earlier this month, according to Forbes.

Johnson’s running partner, Libertarian vice presidential candidate and former governor of Massachusetts William Weld also has a long background in education.

According to NPR, Massachusetts road to becoming one of the best states in education began with Weld’s 1993 declaration that investing in good education is a priority. With that, he oversaw the passing of the Education Reform Act- Massachusetts has been a leading state in education ever since.

Certainly, the two governors' combined experience in the education field make them promising candidates to (at the very least) bring K-12 education issues to the forefront of the debate.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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