In the Huffington Post, Dale Hansen sums up many liberals’ views when he claims, “The recent appointment of Betsy DeVos has proved one thing – conservatives are far more concerned about politics than they are about educating children.” But the competitive education reforms that Devos champions are essential to giving kids the skills to thrive in a global economy.
Median wages in the US have stagnated, but liberals who decry this fact ignore a root cause: a mismatch between the skills that students acquire in school, and the skills that they need to thrive in the workplace. Jobs in many sectors keep commanding higher salaries: IT wages rose 18.4 percent from 2011 to 2015. The problem, as renowned economist Tyler Cowen notes in Average Is Over, is that our economy leaves behind people who lack the skills to compete in these sectors. And traditional public schools are still focused on outdated classes like cursive writing, in lieu of preparing students for the economy of the future.
The U.S. needs an education system that’s as dynamic as the market our kids will enter, where new technologies can spring up overnight and render old ones obsolete. The warehouse model of one teacher lecturing to 20-30 students, which has remained almost unchanged since its importation from Prussia in the 19th century, is no longer working.
Continue reading at Townhall.
Early in his campaign, Donald Trump pledged, “As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty. If we can put a man on the moon, dig out the Panama Canal, and win two world wars, then I have no doubt that we as a nation can provide school choice to every disadvantaged child in America.”
Now that Betsy DeVos is confirmed, America could be closer to achieving this goal, but the path will not be easy due to strong partisan opinions in both the House and the Senate. Already pegged as the “most polarizing education secretary ever,” it is clear that DeVos has a tough job ahead of her.
In order to lead America’s education policy and quell the legitimate concerns raised by her opponents, DeVos should explain to worried Americans that school choice can still include an effective public school system. Further, DeVos should repeal federal regulations that disincentivize states from adopting personalized education programs that could benefit their students.
While some criticism of DeVos has been political theatre, a few of DeVos’s colleagues have legitimate worries about her policies. Two of them, Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, even broke rank to make the confirmation vote close. DeVos is a strong advocate of school choice policies and the reallocation of public school funds to voucher programs and private schools, which can be a scary prospect for senators from rural areas like Alaska and Maine.
Continue reading at American Thinker.
American students continue to trail behind students from other industrial countries in educational achievement. In the most recent Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) report, American students ranked 25 out of the 72 countries that participated in the study. This report comes after an equally appalling Pew Research study revealed that American students are floating in the middle of the pack. Betsy DeVos’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions on Tuesday was, therefore, an opportunity for Americans to learn more about the country’s trajectory in the next four years.
The committee hearing was not policy-focused and ended up being mainly a partisan debate. Thus, it is important to discuss some pressing issues that were not clarified during the committee hearing as well as one specific issue that was hidden beneath the partisan quagmire.
Continue reading at American Thinker.
An ironic tragedy of Barack Obama’s presidency is how the economic prospects of black Americans are worse today than when he entered office; the black unemployment rate currently sits at 9.5%, double the national average and worse than the 5% rate prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Under President Obama, black Americans have yet to recover wealth lost during the recession. Furthermore, recent fatal police encounters between black teens in Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago, and Cleveland have prompted blacks to reconsider their generation-long allegiance to the Democratic Party. For too long Democrats have taken the black vote for granted but have done very little to reverse black America’s economic decline or to rehabilitate America’s broken criminal justice system, an issue that disproportionately affects the black community. This confluence of events provides Republicans the opportunity to reengage with black voters. Specifically, Republicans can leverage their positions on school choice, criminal justice reform and occupational licensing to make the case to black voters that the GOP can most effectively serve the economic and social interests of the black community.
Read the rest on Huffpost Black Voices, here.
By Saturday’s end, millions of people will have celebrated school choice at more than 16,000 events across the country for National School Choice Week. The celebrations all fall under the National School Choice Week brand, but they are independently planned and funded, making the grassroots celebration that much more striking.
“The reason that School Choice Week has grown so exponentially is because people realize that school choice means empowering parents to choose the best education environments for their kids,” Andrew Campanella, president of National School Choice Week, told theWashington Examiner. “It’s not about saying that one type of school is better than another for all kids, it’s about saying that each individual parent should be able to make that determination.” Campanella also credited the positive approach of the celebrations, focusing on presenting all the options and not getting stuck in wonky policy debates.
As it grows, National School Choice Week is becoming increasingly bipartisan. Among the 32 governors issuing proclamations recognizing School Choice Week are three Democrats: John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Jack Markell of Delaware and David Ige of Hawaii. The list of 240 mayors and county leaders recognizing School Choice Week includes many Democrats, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The celebration also features a diverse set of partner organizations, like Democrats for Education Reform, the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options.
The bipartisan support explains why the United States Senate voted unanimously to recognize National School Choice Week for the second year in a row, with cosponsors including Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.