In order to strengthen our community and develop a quality workforce that is prepared for the future we must ensure that we support education reforms that actually work. Our district is a proud home to Fortune 500 companies that are leading the way technical fields such as engineering, medical research, and IT/IS. We are also the not-so-proud home of the largest achievement gap in education between white and non-white students in the entire country.
Our students are falling behind in basic subjects and are not developing the skills that will be critical tomorrow. We must do a better job of preparing our students for success in life and in the workforce.
It is the time to replace what sounds good with what works. What works is putting decisions back in to the hands of local people. Our own Governor, in asking for a waiver from the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Law, stated:
“Such a waiver would allow Minnesota educators to focus on what is working in their schools. It would provide school boards, administrators, teachers, and parents with the flexibility they need to implement the reforms the Legislature and I enacted in the recent session.”
Federal government agencies and union bosses don’t educate our children; local people do. There are many different, positive ideas that should be implemented in education. Among them are:
Choice: Attending a good school that meets the needs of your child should not come as the result of some sort of lottery. Parents hold the primary responsibility for ensuring their children receive an adequate education and we must support their decision to choose where they want their child to attend school. In Congress, Keith Ellison voted against allowing Washington, D.C. parents choice in where to send their children to school.
Digital Learning: There is no escaping the digital revolution that is occurring in education. Many fight it because it will shift the balance of power in education but it should be embraced. Digital learning is new frontier and we should embrace it. It will customize education and enhance student performance.
Emphasis on the Basics: Reading and math skills are critical components in developing the critical thinkers that will shape our country. Schools are not a place for social engineering but rather a place to gain knowledge and skills that will be applicable throughout one’s life.
Accountability for Education Professionals: All education professionals should be given accountability standards that are directly related to the student’s ability to perform. This will ensure that teachers and administrators are better trained to meet the needs of students.
We need to support policies that improve the quality of education at all levels. Educating our children has too often been a divisive issue. Attempts at transformational change are often demonized because of competing interests when the focus should be on how to increase student knowledge and performance. The best solutions available are ones that return increased authority, decision-making, and funding back to the states.