During last night’s GOP presidential primary debate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry was asked to differentiate himself from the last American president who hailed from the Lone Star State: George W. Bush. Perry responded by saying that his “vocal” opposition to Bush’s No Child Left Behind law is one of the things that sets them apart:
What we have in — in — in difference is probably as much as in style as in substance on various issues. For instance, you know, I was very vocal in my disagreement with him on Medicaid Part D that the federal government should be involved in that very expensive program.
And I was also vocal against No Child Left Behind. It gets back to the federal government has no business telling the states how to educate our children.
Perry may think now that the federal government “has no business” in education, but in 2002, he was very happy to do business with the U.S. Department of Education, applauding No Child Left Behind and bragging about the funds Texas would receive under the law:
“Texas was a model for President Bush’s No Child Left Behind legislation, and we continue to lead the nation in innovative solutions to improve our schools,” Perry said. “The U.S. Department of Education’s stamp of approval means we can move forward with our plan to improve early childhood education, dropout prevention, teaching excellence, science education and our schools’ use of technology.” [...]
On Jan. 8, Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, which authorizes federal education appropriations and increases the emphasis on accountability. Texas is set to receive $2.3 billion for K-12 education under the act, an increase of $397 million over the state’s current appropriation.
In 2005, when it looked like funding for No Child Left Behind was going to be cut in the Senate, Perry dispatched a lobbying team to preserve the money. $14.5 million of that money “was directed to Texas for ‘innovation programs.’”
Since then, Perry has tried to reinvent his education positions, saying that NCLB was “a monstrous intrusion into our affairs.” He has also advanced the theory that federal education funding as a whole is unconstitutional. But that didn’t stop him from praising and accepting NCLB money, or from accepting aid from the other education programs that the federal government has made available.