By Kenric Ward
Asserting that "academic standards and outcomes were higher" before the advent of the U.S. Department of Education, Michele Bachmann blasted the federal role in America's schools.
"We have 4,200 employees in the federal Department of Education making an average of $103,000 a year. This money would be better spent in local classrooms," the GOP presidential hopeful said Thursday at an education forum in New York City.
Bachmann, a congresswoman for Minnesota, said her political involvement began at her children's schools.
"One day, my 11th-grade foster daughter brought home an assignment -- coloring posters," Bachmann recalled. "I became concerned about educational standards."
Running for and winning a seat at the state Legislature, Bachmann led Minnesota's campaign to repeal the federal "Goals 2000/Schools to Work" standards and implement tougher state benchmarks. She also helped to found the state's first charter school for at-risk children.
Since she was elected to Congress, she has fought to reduce the federal role in education and vows to abolish the Department of Education if she is elected president.
"Leave the money in the states -- don't skim it off the top to feed a federal bureaucracy," she said.
Responding to questions about the federal "No Child Left Behind" law orchestrated by President George W. Bush and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Bachmann said the program is "well-intentioned, but it has delivered less than had been hoped for initially.
"What we got was more bureaucracy," she told the forum sponsored by the College Board and News Corp.