Newt Gingrich may not have thrilled a crowd of Iowa school kids with all of his answers on Tuesday, but he cannot be accused of pandering to them.

Gingrich didn’t score points with the 200 or so middle and high schoolers  in Osage, Iowa, with his answer to the U.S. falling behind in the brain race with China.

“You’ve got to study more,” he told the kids, who stared back. “Scores in the end aren’t the teacher’s problem; they are the student’s problem.”

The kids were quiet and attentive for the 45 minutes the former US House Speaker spent with them in the gym at Osage Middle School, but their reactions afterward were decidedly mixed.

Some were thrilled with Gingrich’s visit, including Alexandra Burns, 14, the daughter of a local Republican legislator who invited Gingrich after meeting him with her father.