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Statement on Public Education

Once the standard of the world, U.S. schools now rank 20th in high school graduation rates, 24th in college graduation rates and 27th (out of 30 countries) in college graduation rates of scientists and engineers. The 180-day school year, the one teacher per 25 students (on average), the six-hour school day, the same general subjects, and the same graduation requirements has resulted—not surprisingly—in the stagnation of our educational system.

The current system is obsolete. And despite the claims of many, more money is not the answer. Pouring more money and more staffing into a failed system simply yields a more expensive failed system. Over the years, hundreds of reform efforts have been tried and billions of dollars have been spent in an effort to make that happen, but to no avail. It is time for a different approach.

As reported by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation, a recent study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) suggests that if the U.S. could boost its average PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) scores by 25 points over the next 20 years, it could lead to a gain of $41 trillion for the U.S. economy over the lifetime of the generation born in 2010.

Let’s put the control for our schools back into the hands of the folks who know the most about learning, pedagogy, and our children--their teachers and parents.

  Let’s adequately fund all of our schools, and make sure that the school in the inner-city is as clean, safe and well-equipped as the one in the wealthiest of suburbs.

Let’s stop allowing non-certified, unqualified educational tourists from groups like Teach for America to be handed the responsibility of educating our children in urban and rural schools, and insist that all kids be taught by dedicated, committed professionals, with the appropriate course work, licenses, and certifications.

Let’s demand that all schools offer a rich, engaging curriculum, including music, art, and physical education--and let’s stop referring to these subjects as “extras,” or “specials”--our children certainly don’t see them as “extras.” For some kids, these are the things that make school worth going to.

Let’s educate our students to be employable. High-growth sectors like information technology require a workforce with advanced skills. We must increase access to STEM education, encourage students to pursue STEM studies earlier and with greater focus, and better train STEM educators.

Let’s guarantee that every publicly-funded school is held to the same standards, regulations, and expectations, that all such schools are required to admit any child who wishes to attend, that “lotteries” and other similar methods of artificially “managing” student enrollment are eliminated, and that every child has access to a high quality public school, regardless of geography or socio-economic status.

Let’s stop pretending that competition and choice are the solutions to the problems that have been created by competition and choice.

Let’s stop trying to fund two parallel, “separate but equal” school systems, and put a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools until all publicly-funded schools are “competing” on level playing fields.
And let’s return control for our public schools to where it belongs: elected school boards made up of concern citizens from the communities in which their schools are located, and put an end to schools governed by unreliable charter “management companies” and state-appointed “emergency managers” and “CEOs”.

We need politicians to get their hands out of education and enact policies to give it back to the people who love it. Give education back to the teachers. Give us teachers who have worked and understand what it’s like to have a connection to their students and care about their well-being later in life. 

Let’s make American public education the envy of the world again.

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