Marco Rubio's education plan is pretty much like President Obama's

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Marco Rubio, who is expected to announce a presidential bid on Monday evening, has long sought to position himself as the anti-Barack Obama.

The Florida Republican and Tea Party darling is a believer in small government, he has questioned human involvement in climate change, and he vehemently opposes restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba.


But when it comes to education, Sen. Rubio and President Obama have more in common than they'd probably both like to admit.

1. Expanding access to higher ed

Both men have endorsed the idea of offering college credit for skills people earn in the workforce, a policy that could help more veterans earn degrees. Obama and Rubio both support student loan repayment plans that are based on how much a borrower earns after graduation, and both want schools to post how much their graduates earn. Essentially, both men say they want to make college more accessible for a diverse array of students and they want young people to have a clear idea of exactly which degrees and schools offer a path to success.


2. Promoting early ed

Rubio and Obama both support the idea of early childhood education. Rubio even said on CBS' Face the Nation that he thinks programs like Head Start, which Obama has championed, are well-intentioned. But unlike the president, Rubio thinks they should be controlled by state and local governments. He has said that different locales grapple with different, unique challenges, and decentralizing such programs would allow for more innovative approaches to providing access to preschool programs.

3. Getting more students into STEM degrees

Rubio's Senate page says he wants to "overcome the science, technology, engineering and mathematics crisis," and he has supported a STEM visa idea that would allow U.S.-educated foreign students with certain science and tech degrees to remain and work in the country. Likewise, Obama has supported the idea of expanding a program that lets foreign-born STEM graduates remain in the United States, and he would like to make it easier for foreign entrepreneurs to launch their businesses here.


4. Revamping vocational training

Rubio wrote in his book, "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future," that he supports the creation of "career academies" that would allow students to become certified in technical fields. The Obama administration has supported the idea of making two-years of community college or technical training after high school free, even praising Tennessee's Republican governor, Bill Haslam, for the state's efforts to expand access to vocational and college courses.


Marco Rubio and President Obama certainly aren't identical when it comes to their beliefs about the best ways to educate children in the United States, though.

Rubio has been a vocal supporter of school choice, allowing children to attend charter schools or magnet schools outside of their zoned area, while Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for stifling states' efforts to offer school choice, and Rubio would like education policy to come more from the states and less from the federal Education Department.


Rubio will be certain to point out those differences when he campaigns. And there's one area where he'll have an easier time succeeding than another likely Republican contender, Jeb Bush.

While Rubio has staunchly opposed the Common Core standards that the Obama administration has championed, Bush helped create them.


Let the campaigning and spin tactics begin.

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.