I engaged the DNC, fully prepared to track issue notation, jot down quotes; committed to fully digest the message. I failed! I did watch seven or eight speakers, started to keep track of the ‘issues’ but my energy and attention waned at the repetition.
What was, however, clear was that education was a subject for nearly every speaker. Education is critically important; the potential silver bullet for those denied equal quality in their educational experience.
There is a problem. The very people (teachers’ unions prime among them) who make the most noise over the issue are exactly the same people who delivered the problem to its current epic proportions. These folks tell us more money is required. It is, always, more money. We spend more than anyone on education and the additional money over the years has not proven to stem the decline in the overall quality of education; most especially for those who need quality education the most.
The African American community in Washington DC fought tooth and nail to get their children into a voucher program that allowed them to choose schools for their children and save them from failing neighborhood schools. Is there a more effective ‘social justice’ issue than a quality education? The program, according to those who fought for it, was their only educational hope in DC. The Obama administration set out to kill the program early in 2009 and again in 2010.
The problem with the program was that it was a voucher program and it worked. The problem with the program was that it was not government centric. The problem with the program was that there was parental choice. The problem with the program was that it did not serve the ideological point of view and would force schools and teachers to compete. To compete encompasses the potential for failure and such a failure simply could not be accepted; no matter the facts.
The problem is that true experimental approaches to education threaten schools and teachers who are not performing. The translation simply is ‘it’s not about the children; it’s about the existing, failing educational infrastructure.’
There are great schools and teachers; there is innovation here and there. Having moved all over the country the first question in each new location was; “where is the best school?” Sacrifices were made to insure my kids found their way to those schools. We even moved once within the same city to escape a school absent discipline and standards, expense be damned. That same desire is shared by most parents and especially those who suffer disadvantage. It is those disadvantaged that know best and suffer worse from failing schools.
Competition generates innovation, efficiency, creativity and accountability. If the educational system is as important as the DNC speakers claim where is their contribution to innovation? Where is the student centric programming? To claim the importance of education is valid, to remain committed to a failing status quo is not.