Despite the 2004 controversy surrounding his children and the Penn Hills School District, Santorum is perhaps better known in the education sector for his effort at including the ‘Santorum Amendment’ into the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. It was an attempt at including the theory of intelligent design, alongside the theory of evolution, into the public school science syllabus. The attempt proved to be unsuccessful, but it has been largely credited as the catalyst for the decade-long battle between the Creationist and the scientific community. However, Santorum now explains that he decision to vote for the No Child Left Behind Act was something that was against his principle, and was made for the good of the 'team'.
“… Look, I think we've all had votes that I look back on I -- I wish I wouldn't have voted -- No Child Left Behind, you're right, it lead to education spending. That's why I've said that we need to cut and eliminate No Child Left Behind and -- and education funding from the federal government, move it back to the local level where it belongs where parents and local communities can deal with that…
… I supported No Child Left Behind. I supported it. It was the principal priority of President Bush to try to take on a failing education system and try to impose some sort of testing regime that would be able to quantify how well we're doing with respect to education. I have to admit, I voted for that. It was against the principles I believed in, but, you know, when you're part of the team, sometimes you take one for the team, for the leader, and I made a mistake.
You know, politics is a team sport, folks. And sometimes you've got to rally together and do something. And in this case, you know, I thought testing was -- and finding out how bad the problem was wasn't a bad idea. What was a bad idea was all the money that was put out there, and that, in fact, was a huge problem. I admit the mistake and I will not make that mistake again. You have someone who is committed. Look, I'm a home schooling father of seven. I know the importance of customized education for our children. I know the importance of parental control of education.
I know the importance of local control of education. And having gone through that experience of the federal government involvement, not only do I believe the federal government should get out of the education business, I think the state government should start to get out of the education business and put it back to the state -- to the local and into the community…
February 22, 2012: CNN Arizona Republican Presidential Debate
For the first 150 years, most presidents home-schooled their children at the White House… Where did they come up that public education and bigger education bureaucracies was the rule in America? Parents educated their children, because it's their responsibility to educate their children."
"Yes the government can help, but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home-school or have the little neighborhood school, and into these big factories, so we built equal factories called public schools. And while those factories as we all know in Ohio and Pennsylvania have fundamentally changed, the factory school has not.”
February 18, 2012: Santorum speaking at a rally in Columbus, Ohio
“Ladies and gentlemen, we know, we know, how to help the poor. We need to have stabile families, we need to have an education system that focuses on the need of every child in America, not the education system, but every child in America. As I was saying earlier today, the President of the United States came out and said, ‘under my administration every child should go to college,”. What elitist snobbery out of this man.
We have seven children. I would be honored if my son wanted to go and be the best darn auto mechanic in this country. It’s fine with me. And that’s great, work is good. Work is good no matter what the work is if you do it as well as you can. And (unclear) rewarded for that work. That’s what we’re talking about here. Not this elitist view of what Barack Obama thinks is best for all of us. Promote work. Promote families and marriages. And of course, make sure that we have this system that takes care of every child.”
January 7, 2012: Santorum responding to a question during a campaign rally in New Hampshire.
“But the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly, much less that the state government should be running schools is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home school or have the little neighborhood school and into these big factories. So we built equal factories called public schools.
… that local communities and, and parents should be the ones who are in control of public education, not the, certainly not the federal government and to as I said before, as I said in that clip I think the state governments have not done a particularly good job in public education. I think public education should be a dynamic process that's locally run, that works with parents to provide the optimal opportunity for each child in America to get the education that they need, not what the federal government or the state government says that you should have. That's why I refer to it as, you know, going back to the industrialization of America when we had a, we had a system in, in this country with industrialization where, you know, you had one car produced. And, you know, you maybe got it in two colors. And, and we haven't changed public education significantly since then. Every single car on a Detroit line is custom ordered. Why? Because it's designed to meet the needs of the customer. The education system, federally run, state run, is not designed to meet the, meet the needs of the customer. It's designed for the purposes of the school not the children and the parents who are the customers of that system. And I think we need a dramatic change in that system.
Well, there's one thing the state, there's one thing for states to, to help fund public education. It's another thing to dictate and micromanage and, and create a "one size fits all education" system in states and certainly in the federal government what President Obama is trying to do. What we need is to have the same kind of change and dynamic change in the public school system as we've seen in the economy of this country. Customized. Everybody gets what they need. I have seven children. I can tell you each one of them learn differently. All of them can excel in different settings. And that goes with every, every American child. And we can do better than a system that one in three children drop out of school. If that is the hallmark, Bob, that you talk about as a, as a great society, when one of three children drop out of school and a lot of the folks who don't drop out of school still can't read at grade level, that to me is a failure and defending that failure is not something I'm planning on doing which is what the President does…”
February 19, 2012: Santorum speaking to Bob Schieffer on NBC’s Face The Nation