Santorum’s Misfire on Obama, Colleges and Religion
“President Obama said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob! There are good, decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”
— Former senator Rick Santorum, Feb. 25, 2012
“You know the statistic that at least I was familiar with from a few years ago, I don’t know if it still holds true but I suspect it may even be worse, that 62 percent of kids who enter college with some sort of faith commitment leave without it.”
— Santorum, on ABC’s “This Week,” Feb. 26, 2012
There are two things going on with these remarks by Santorum — an attack on Obama for demanding college education for everyone and then an assertion that the college experience is akin to some sort of liberal boot camp.
We always thought college was more about being liberated (from parents), but clearly in some conservative circles there has also been an undercurrent of concern about attitudes on college campuses. (Some colleges, such as Hillsdale College in Michigan, in fact market themselves as conservative alternatives.)
But let’s check out Santorum’s claims about Obama and also examine whether there is data that backs up Santorum’s fears about college’s impact on people’s politics and religion.
Obama’s statement on college education, made in his first speech to a joint session of Congress in 2009, is easy to check. The president, noting the success of the GI Bill after World War II, said the United States should seek to once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world:
“And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country — and this country needs and values the talents of every American.”
Hmm…that sounds like Obama is talking about more than just a four-year college; he simply says “one year or more” and includes community college, vocational training or an apprenticeship on his list of possibilities.