WASHINGTON -- Ohio Gov. John Kasich admonished his fellow Republicans on Wednesday for calling for the elimination of the Department of Education, which is an odd stance to take for someone who called for eliminating the Department of Education.
The presidential candidate was speaking at a pro-education reform forum in New Hampshire along with other GOP contenders when the topic turned to the oft-proposed idea of simply getting rid of the federal government’s role in the matter.
“I’m going to tell you something that was a mistake. When we use the rhetoric that we are going to kill the Department of Education, you know what independent voters heard? Oh, so the Republicans want to kill education,” Kasich said.
Kasich went on to argue that a better prescription would be to hand federal education programs over to the states -- a process more akin to dismantling the department from within than eliminating it all at once. All of which suggests that he sees the issue as a rhetorical debate as much as, if not more than, a substantive one. Still, it’s a debate where Kasich has been on each side.
Back in the mid-90s, when he served as chair of the House Budget Committee, the Ohio Republican put out a budget proposal that called for the elimination of 16 agencies, including the Commerce Department, the Department of Energy and, yes, the Department of Education.
So what happened in the intervening years? Rob Nichols, a spokesman for the governor, made the case (logical though not always politically persuasive) that thinking changes over time.
"Just as he's been straightforward in saying on some other issues, his views on this have admittedly grown in 20 years, especially after his work as governor helping lead education efforts for a major state,” said Nichols. “The federal government's role should be severely limited, however, with the department being a resource for local schools as they choose the direction that's right for them. The interference and micromanagement must stop."