Carson: I Support Redistributing Education Dollars, But With Title I, Not Pooling Property Taxes

Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson defended a prior statement calling for the redistribution of education funding in an interview broadcast on Tuesday’s broadcast of CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” but he maintained that he only supports Title I funding, not “national pooling of property tax receipts.”

Carson was asked about his statement in a 2014 interview with Politico, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to put the money in a pot and redistribute it throughout the country so that public schools are equal, whether you’re in a poor area or a wealthy area?” And how he squares this with his opposition to redistributing wealth.

Carson answered, “Well, that’s a different concept altogether. I’m talking about the fact that there are a lot of public schools, that exist in areas that are economically deprived, that don’t have the facilities that are necessary to provide the best education for our children, and this is something that really affects us as a nation, because we only have 330 million people, and we have to compete against China and India with over a billion people each. So, we have to strengthen the fabric of our nation by educating all of our students. It’s incumbent upon every segment of our population.”

Carson was then asked, “But isn’t it redistribution of wealth? I mean it’s redistribution of education wealth, but it’s redistribution, right?”

He stated, “Well, it’s the government having a responsibility to educate everyone, and looking at the best system in order to do that. I think that’s very different than a situation where someone is working hard, is making, you know, a lot of money, is providing a lot of jobs, and is contributing to the fabric of America, and then us going along and saying, ‘Well, he’s got too much, and this guy over here, he has too little. So, let’s just take this one, and give it to that one.’ That’s much more arbitrary.

Anchor Jake Tapper followed up, “Well, you’re talking about doing it on an individual level, but when it’s school districts, it’s funded from local taxes, so isn’t it the same principle at stake?”

Carson argued, “No, it’s not the same principle at stake, because we are talking about the entire nation and we’re talking about what makes us competitive in the world, and the great divide between the haves and the have not is education. That’s very different than redistributing funding because you feel that that’s the social thing to do.”

In a Facebook post shortly before the interview aired, Carson wrote “Education is the key to unlocking the enormous potential of our students. I support Title 1 funding to raise up poor inner-city and rural schools to a level where these children can get the education they deserve. My support has absolutely nothing to do with property tax payments used to fund our schools. I also support massive reform of our education system because funding is but one of the problems facing our underperforming schools — I do not support the national pooling of property tax receipts. That is a falsehood.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett