SIOUX CITY — Two days after declaring his 2024 candidacy for president, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott was in Sioux City on Wednesday morning for his first official campaign stop in Iowa.
A Republican in his third term, Scott visited Siouxland Christian on Gordon Drive and toured the facilities with school faculty before holding a roundtable discussion with the staff about school safety, educational savings accounts, his own upbringing and systemic racism.
Scott arrived just before 9:30 a.m. and started off talking with Siouxland Christian Principal Katie Trimble and others about the "great job" Gov. Kim Reynolds has done when it comes to education. Later, during the chat with staffers, the 57-year-old Charleston Southern University grad, talked about Iowa as a leader on "school choice" and said an overhaul of the country's educational system has been a long time coming.
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"For the school choice movement, the seeds have been planted over years and years and years," he said. "It's going to be fun to watch how the country changes because of quality education."
The education section of Scott's 2024 campaign website mentions his work on the "CHOICE Act" which he has said would ensure "parents have the tools to find a school that can effectively serve their child’s needs and grants flexibility and support to parents with disabled children." That portion of the site is headlined "Education, not indoctrination" and says "Extreme liberals are letting big labor bosses trap millions of kids in failing systems." (A 2019 study by Eunice S. Han and Thomas N. Maloney in the "Labor Studies Journal" found that there is a positive relationship between teachers unions and student test scores.)
To bring more teachers to understaffed schools, Scott said one possible solution may be to have some measure of student loan debt forgiveness for those entering the educational workforce. However, Scott said he was not in favor of President Joe Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 of debt for tens of millions of Americans and then accused the federal government of not thinking about outcomes and only focusing on doling out money.
"If we're thinking about outcomes, we're probably on the right track," he said. In the same portion of the chat, Siouxland Christian Superintendent Lindsay Laurich said "I think it's going to take an innovative mindset to solve some of these problems."
Safety and Education Secretary
While chatting with Laurich, Trimble, and other school personnel, Scott was asked about his work on school safety.
"After Uvalde, (we) put together legislation that would provide around $38 billion of additional resources to make sure we have safer schools, safer kids, safer communities," Scott said. "Focusing on the tragedies around the country and responding to them effectively and positively, by providing the resources for communities to make the best decisions that they can to protect their kids, not having a one-size-fits-all (approach) come down from the federal government."
In the wake of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which happened on May 24, 2022 and left 22 dead, Congress passed a "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" to "toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states put in place red flag laws that make it easier for authorities to take weapons from people adjudicated to be dangerous" (according to the Associated Press). Scott was not one of the 15 Republicans to vote "yea" on the bill.
When asked what he would look for in a potential Secretary of Education for his presidential administration, Scott said he'd like to see a person who doesn't "target" charter schools and advocates for students rather than "indoctrinates" them.
"Indoctrination" and discrimination
The notion of young people being "indoctrinated" or led toward certain beliefs came up more than once in Scott's time at the Siouxland Christian campus. Early in his remarks, he said "If we don't start teaching kids that all things are possible, don't be surprised when they buy into the drug of victimhood."
Though he didn't officially take questions from the press, as the chat was drawing to a close, Scott was asked by a media member if he had a comment on Joy Behar of "The View" saying he didn't understand systemic racism.
"I've been discriminated against, without any question, though America is not a racist country," said Scott, who is the first Black senator from South Carolina in the state's history and the first Black American to win a U.S. Senate race in the South since 1881. "What I will say though is: What is insane and dangerous are the liberal elites making millions of dollars a year trying to indoctrinate our kids that the only way to be successful in this country as a child of color is to be the exception. That is a lie, without any question, and it's a dangerous lie."
To kick off the chat in the first grade classroom at Siouxland Christian, Scott talked about how important education was to him.
"The closest thing to magic in America is a quality education. As a kid, I attended four different elementary schools by the fourth grade. And being raised in a single-parent household, mired in poverty, the one thing I can tell you is that finding the right place for your kid is really hard when you're moving a lot," Scott said.
"As that kid, without a father around, the pain, the misery and the distractions outside of the classroom, sometimes you have to build boundaries and borders within the classroom to help a kid have a very health experience. Walking through this school and looking at that stage in the multipurpose gymnasium room, I'm just remembering the teachers that had incredible impact on my life."
At 6:30 p.m., Scott held an event at Novelty Machine & Supply Co. (1635 Zenith Drive) in Sioux City.
Scott's visit came the same day as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially filed paperwork to launch his 2024 bid for the White House. As of now, in national polls for the Republican primary, Scott is behind DeSantis, as well as former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. On Saturday, May 13, DeSantis made a stop at the Dean Classic Car Museum in Sioux Center, Iowa as the keynote speaker for the third annual Feenstra Family Picnic.