Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico and the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate, recently explained to International Business Times how he would tackle the United States' education system. Watch the exclusive video above and read his comments below on eliminating the federal Education Department and changing the way tuition works.
International Business Times: You just mentioned eliminating the IRS. I know you've also proposed that, if you were president, you would get rid of the Department of Education — which is something that's obviously of great interest to my generation. Well, how would that work? Could you kind of walk me through your thoughts?
Gary Johnson: Let me walk you through this one. OK. New York City. Washington, D.C. Here's New York City. New York City sends Washington, D.C., 13 cents. OK? [It] goes to Washington, D.C., and it comes back to New York state as 11 cents. Gee, how does that transaction work? Something happened. Bureaucracy happened. All right. And then, they send 11 cents back. So 11 cents out of every school dollar that every state spends comes from the federal government, but it comes with 15 cents' worth of the strings attached, meaning they say, "To get the 11 cents, we want you to do A, B, C and D." Well, to do A, B, C and D, that's 4 cents that the state could have spent in ways that it saw fit. But now it's got to comply with the federal government to receive it.
So if none of this transaction ever occurred in the first place, a dollar would get spent in New York in ways that New Yorkers would have wanted to spend that money. Doesn't that make sense?
IBT: It does make sense. I know they [Congress] just recently passed an education law that returns a lot of that federal control to the local level. You want to go even further than that.
Johnson: So they're going to return more control. Why should they have any control at all in the first place? That's my point. I think we have this notion that the Department of Education was established under George Washington, when it was established under Jimmy Carter.
This also leads to another topic, which is: Why is the cost of college tuition so high?
IBT: I was going to ask you that next.
Johnson: It's guaranteed government student loans. If guaranteed government student loans never existed, tuition today would be half of what it is, because colleges and universities would have to go out and attract you as a student. And they would have to be as effective and efficient as everything else in our lives. But because you are guaranteed a government student loan, you have no excuse to not go to college. Colleges' and universities' tuition keeps going up. They have absolutely no reality with regard to their pricing. If every college student tomorrow says, "I'm not going to go to college until the price of college, university education drops," guess what? It would. It would happen. It would happen dramatically.
And I am sorry that college graduates today have been sold a bill of goods. Graduating with college with a home mortgage without the home. I think college students have been sold a bill of goods.