Education Reform Must Be a Priority
By Tom Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
May 19, 2009
President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are to be commended for their strong support of K-12 education reform. The key issues now are follow-through and whether the teachers’ unions and their allies will undermine this effort.
Throughout the campaign and into his administration, President Obama has been outspoken in support of higher standards for high school graduation, better assessments of student performance, more robust data systems, merit pay for teachers, more charter schools, increased emphasis on math and science, and more innovation in public schools.
There’s no question that education reform must be a national imperative. The statistics are frightening. Nearly a third of all high school students–and half of minority students–do not graduate in four years. Those who do go to college are often in need of remedial courses. American students are also falling behind their peers in other countries, ranking 25th out of 30 in math and 24th out of 30 in science in a recent international assessment. This is a prescription for national decline.
Fortunately, there is much that we can do to improve our K-12 education system. We can begin by strengthening and reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as No Child Left Behind. NCLB has succeeded in bringing accountability into American classrooms, making it impossible for schools to hide their failures. The results are encouraging–student performance has improved–but more must be done.
Next, we must ensure that the $100 billion earmarked for education and training in the stimulus bill is spent wisely. The U.S. Chamber is a leading member of the Coalition for Student Achievement, which urges the nation’s governors to use these funds to implement reforms that work. One such reform would be the creation of a system to collect and track data on individual student performance from kindergarten through college. This would enhance accountability and foster continuous improvement. Other examples include the development of college and career-ready standards and effective intervention in chronically low-performing schools.
Finally, we must acknowledge that no amount of government spending can replace engaged parents. We must encourage parents to take more responsibility for their children’s education.
President Obama said, “In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity–it is a prerequisite.” Now is the time to turn words into action. By making education one of our top priorities, the Chamber is leading by example.
Michael 5/19/2009 7:39:43 PM
Instead of reinventing the wheel, why not use what works for the other countries that score much better than us? Throwing money at the problem will not solve anything, it never has. We can’t buy our way out of this one. It seems to me everybody is so preoccupied with their own agenda that the students get lost in the shuffle. And while we argue and keep discussing the problem among ourselves, valuable windows of opportunities are missed and the students are left behind. AGAIN! (Modesto, Ca)
Jim Eckland 5/19/2009 7:20:42 PM
According to The U.S. Constitution, there is no authorization for the federal Govt. to get involved in education at all and they shouldn’t! States and local School Districts need to design their own School programs and compete with those across the nation. All is needed is Standardized testing to evaluate their progress !! (Lancaster, Mass.)
Mike K 5/19/2009 7:01:52 PM
Blah Blah Blah… I will not support anything this Socialistic so called President is doing…Tom if you cannot see what is really taking place here, then you my friend are no friend to us business owners.
Hussein Obama is taking us apart this Country piece by piece and if you don’t have the balls to stand up for us then we need someone who can. This narcissistic bastard still has not proved his citizenship and no one seems to give a crap. This guy wants HUGE Government…he wants total control.
The unions are breaking us down these days and the teachers union is one that needs massive reform, you have biased teachers in there teaching crap to our children when they should be teaching them the three R’s without bias… I am so sick of all the crap that is taking place these days, it absolutely disgust me what the American people are putting up with.
PS Karen in Lubbock TX…I agree parents need to start acting like parents and not their kids best friend…but lets face it, if they try to discipline your child these days you could go to jail…hahaha.. this Country is falling to pieces… (Northridge, CA)
Ervon Fairbanks 5/19/2009 6:57:24 PM
I know that our education system leaves a lot to be desired and academic achievement needs to be improved. I, however, do not believe Obama and his administration are the people to accomplish the task. Obama is a socialist. Recently the Canada Free Press had an article titled, “Obama’s International Socialist Connections” which was quite enlightening. And, when he became president the European socialists were full of joy and jubilation. Now they have one of their own as president of the United States. I can just see socialism rather than democracy being taught to future generations of American students. (Skagway, Alaska)
Ken 5/19/2009 6:55:31 PM
I have great hope for Obama reforming the K-12 education, but I do not have any faith in it. Karen is right on and unless we do as she says the problems will persist. Based on his actions so far, Obama might just try to take over the rearing of our children as in communism. (Leander, Texas)
Pastor Roger 5/19/2009 6:55:26 PM
For two generations now, the Federal Government has inserted itself in the educational process. All the failures are theirs to own. It’s time to return control, responsibility, and accountability to local school boards and parents and get the Federal Government out of the school business. (Columbia, SC)
Charmayne Keith 5/19/2009 6:22:25 PM
I would NEVER support this Marxist, socialist, so call president. He nor his staff is either to be admired or commended. Giving our children and grandchildren a debt that can never be repaid is pure stupidity. Supporting “Partial Birth Abortion” also shows that he places no value on the life of a newborn baby. Shara Palin -4- President. (Kingman, Arizona)
Rod Gillespie 5/19/2009 6:20:19 PM
There will be no reform until the unions are checked, and the enviro-nazi curriculums are rescinded. (Fullerton, California)
Jason Wertchafter 5/19/2009 6:14:29 PM
As a young business owner in the technology field and having attended both private and public schools this topic is very important to me. There is no doubt that the education system needs a complete overhaul and the unions need to be challenged. More than that, the way education takes place day to day is out step with the times and delivery and technology will allow the younger generations to flourish and not get left in the dust. At my company we are working on a blueprint for overhaul to hopefully present to a willing district and hopefully getting support from local & state government. (Plantation, Florida)
Karen 5/19/2009 6:03:36 PM
I come from a long line of educators and they will all tell you that we will never be able to improve our children’s education until we regain parental support….that includes discipline as well as learning. Our teachers have to put up with a lack of respect from the students that is unprecedented and the students really face no serious consequences for it. Nothing the government can do within our schools will fix this….this fix has to come from our homes….not our government. Enough already with all of our problems being solved by throwing money at them or regulating them to death. How about a little personal responsibility for your childs education… (Lubbock, TX)