With the U.S. elections approaching, here’s some advice for the candidates—an excerpt from my column in the October eSchool News
With the country approaching national elections, those involved in education wonder how the results might affect the educational landscape. The last four years have deeply affected schools systems, as the economic downturn has caused significant reductions in spending and the Obama administration has used stimulus dollars as the carrot to implement its policy initiatives. Here are some key points that we should bear in mind as we move forward.
In response to the education critics, there is substantial evidence that America’s public schools are the best they have ever been. Our graduation rates are at the highest levels, our dropout rates are at their lowest, NAEP achievement in reading and math is at its highest level, the achievement of minority students is at its highest levels.
According to the latest Gallup Poll, parent satisfaction with the school their oldest child attends is at its highest level. The problem is that we are not satisfied with our performance, and we want it to be better.
There is a significant gap in achievement between children of color, children on free or reduced lunch, children who speak English as a second language, and white middle-class children. We have two educational systems: one in wealthy suburban communities that can compete with the rest of the world, and one in the impoverished urban and rural systems that has defined the American public school system as a failure. We want all of our public schools to be the best in the world.
Unfortunately, education is not our No. 1 national priority as it is for many of the countries that outperform us on international tests. Education accounts for barely 4 percent of the federal budget. To be the best, we’ll need transformation—and a much greater federal commitment to level the playing field between the haves and have-nots.
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