Lindsey Graham quotes about education

Lindsey Graham, the senior senator from South Carolina, joined the presidential race this week. He’s currently competing against eight other Republicans for the party’s nomination—a number that promises to grow as the year goes on. He’s also the subject of the thirteenth installment of the Eduwatch 2016 series chronicling presidential candidates’ stances on education issues.

Graham has served in the Senate since 2003. Before that, he was a four-term representative in the House and served one term in the state legislature. This, however, is his first time running for the White House. Over his long political tenure, he’s said much about education. Here are some of his views:

1. Common Core (2014): “The Obama administration has effectively bribed and coerced states into adopting Common Core....Blanket education standards should not be a prerequisite for federal funding. In order to have a competitive application for some federal grants and flexibility waivers, states have to adopt Common Core. This is simply not the way the Obama administration should be handling education policy.” February 2014.

2. Common Core (2013): “What's Common Core?...I'll address it. I don't know what it is. Sounds like a bad idea. I'll tell my staff, and I'll try to get a coalition together to take it off....” September 2013.

3. Local control of education: “Education belongs in the hands of our parents, local officials, and states.” February 2014.

4. Accountability: “Accountability is one of the keys to continued progress in education.” October 2007.

5. No Child Left Behind: “NCLB was a historic effort to bring about accountability to our schools and measure achievement and progress of our students....As with any major changes in federal policy, it appears some parts have worked while others have not. I think it is important to meet with men and women who spend their lives educating children to hear their views on NCLB.” October 2007.

6. Homeschooling: “When you look at the outcomes of homeschooling, it will just blow you away. So, here, you can take this one to the bank: You've got no better friend than Lindsey Graham for homeschooling as an option. And I was the one who convinced the Department of Defense to allow homeschool graduates to be eligible for military service.” September 2013.

7. Parental rights in education: “The rights of parents are under assault from school districts, teachers’ unions, and activist judges....Parental rights do not and should not end at the schoolhouse door....Eliminating parental input regarding public school decisions is a disaster for public schools. The last thing we need to do is to alienate or destroy parental involvement in public education.” December 2007.

8. Religion in schools: “In the early sixties, there was a war declared on religion in this country. How many of you remember going to school, being able to say a prayer? How many of you believe the fact that your children can't pray at a football game or say a prayer to their god if they choose to in a public setting has made this country worse off? I hope the presidential nominee for 2016 will embrace social conservatism in a tolerant way.” September 2013.

9. Education benefits for military service members: “It is time we give back to those who have served and continue to serve our nation so valiantly....Our legislation...greatly expands the education benefits available to service members. For the first time, we ensure that all service members will be permitted to transfer their education benefits to their spouses and children, a much-needed and long-overdue improvement.” April 2008.

10. Higher education and the manufacturing sector: (Regarding a bill that would “revamp universities' engineering programs to focus on manufacturing engineering and curricula specifically related to targeted industries”): “This is an incredibly important issue for our states' institutions of higher education and manufacturing industries....I look forward to working with Senator Coons to explore additional innovative ways to create opportunities for our manufacturing sector to thrive.” August 2014.

11. Historically Black Colleges and Universities: “Historically Black Colleges and Universities provide quality educational experiences and play a vital role in an increasingly complex and highly technological society....HBCUs have a rich heritage and have played a prominent role in the history of the United States. Further, they have allowed many students to attain their full potential through higher education.” September 2010.


There you have it—Lindsey Graham. Next up are Rick Perry and Lincoln Chafee, who both plan to announce this week. I’ll follow those up with Bobby Jindal (set to declare later this month) and anyone else who decides to jump into the race. Stay tuned.


Read what Hillary ClintonMarco RubioTed CruzBernie SandersBen CarsonCarly FiorinaMike HuckabeeRand Paul, Jeb BushRick SantorumGeorge Pataki, and Martin O'Malley have said about education.

Brandon L. Wright
Brandon L. Wright is the Editorial Director of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.