Monday, January 23, 2012

What is candidate Stephen Colbert's education platform?

The last entrant to South Carolina's Republican presidential primary was native son Stephen Colbert, who missed the November 1 filing deadline and therefore couldn't be included on the ballot. But Colbert convinced former candidate Herman Cain, who made the deadline but since suspended his candidacy, to mount a mind-meld candidacy in which votes for Cain would suffice as votes for Colbert.

The Colbert-Cain campaign was brief -- only a couple of days -- but effective. More than 3,500 attended its only rally at the College of Charleston on Friday, with another estimated thousand attendees waiting off-campus.

And in Saturday's final tally, Colbert's viability as a two-day, mind-melded candidate was proven: With 6,329 votes, Colbert-Cain won 1.05 percent of the vote, placing fifth behind Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul -- all candidates whose campaigns had been under way for years.

In fact, Colbert-Cain earned more votes than the remaining four candidates on the ballot -- Governor Rick Perry, former Governors Jon Huntsman and Gary Johnson, and Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann -- combined.

Which obviously makes Colbert a player in the nominating contests going forward.

Which, therefore, begs this question from South Carolina's educators: What is Stephen Colbert's platform on education? We know that he attended private school -- the Porter Gaud School in Charleston -- and he's an author who warns people not to read books. He has won awards -- a Peabody, multiple Emmys and a Grammy -- for high performance standards while advocating low standards (his "truthiness" stands in for actual "truth"). He is a mass of contradictions.

But as a candidate for the highest office in the land, Colbert must answer many questions. Where does he stand on high-stakes testing? On class size? On funding arts education? On counting ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches?

South Carolina's primary is over, but South Carolina's educators have friends and family in public education across the nation. They, and the children they teach, cry out for answers -- and for leadership in our government. Could Colbert be that answerer and leader?

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