Tom Joyner Morning Show commentator Roland Martin talks with Republican Senator Rand Paul about the “Success For Our Children” A Forum on School Choice and the benefits of having charter schools over public schools.
Read the full interview below.
ROLAND MARTIN: Education is a huge, huge issue that many Americans are concerned about, especially African-Americans. And today in the nation’s capital there’s going to be a forum hosted by Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul on the issue of school choice. He believe that poor minority students should have an opportunity to go to any school they choose to via vouchers, things along those lines. And so he joins us this morning. Senator Paul, good morning.
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Good morning, guys. Thanks for having me.
ROLAND MARTIN : Glad to have you here. First off, you’re having this forum today. You’re hosting it with four fellow Republican senators, Lamar Alexander, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell and Tim Scott. And I’m curious, did you reach out to any house democrats, state democrats, to say let’s make this a bipartisan deal as opposed to only GOP senators?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: No, I would like to do that. You know, on our side, on the senate’s side, the democrats control the committees. And so we’re not allowed to have an official hearing. So even this one we have to call it a roundtable or they won’t let us meet in the capital. But we haven’t found much interest on the other side to do this.
Some of they say they are for charter schools, but like in my state in Kentucky we can’t get a charter law passed to allow charter schools, which are simply public schools, but public schools are allowed to innovate. We can’t get it passed because of steadfast democrat opposition.
ROLAND MARTIN : Why have you chosen this particular issue? You’ve got lots of publicity for this as well. Why this particular issue?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: You know, I think that when you look at unemployment and you look at the overall economic statistics, if you graduate from high school you have a 25% chance of being unemployed. If you graduate from college you have a 4% chance. So I think between that and then also waiting to have your family, those are the two key things that we need, so education is really important. And I’ve just been blown away. I mean I was in Nashville yesterday at one of these charter schools talking to really one of the most articulate young ladies I’ve seen. And I’ve got my kids in high school, so I know how are articulate or not they are. And this woman was very poised, very articulate and she’s going on to Boston University. I think she came from a disadvantaged background.
We had several parents there. And they all were just, you know, one woman said she tried to get her kid into five magnet school but did not win the lottery and she was at wit’s end thinking they would have to go to the local crummy school. And then she heard about this charter school and got her child in. But to me it’s just, it’s sad, that you’ve got twice as many people who want to get into these charter schools and there’s not enough spots, but then you have resistance by some people politically saying, oh, we don’t want any charter schools because it gives too much freedom to both parents and teachers to change and innovate the education.
TOM JOYNER: Is that what they’re saying? Or are they saying that the charter schools are taking money from the public schools?
SENATOR RAND PAUL: Well, you’re right. That’s probably the way they put it, but charter schools are public schools. So, but you’re right, they don’t argue it exactly the way I described it, they argue that they think they know better, I guess, how to spend the money. But the thing is the results coming from our traditional schools aren’t that good. When you look at graduation rates from high school in the traditional schools in D.C. it’s just not that great, but when you look at those who have gotten vouchers, it’s over a 90% graduation rate.