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What’s the Debate?

October 19, 2012 posted by Michelle Rhee

Like millions of others, I’ve followed the 2012 presidential campaign and debates with great interest, listening to President Obama and Governor Romney make their arguments for why they deserve to be president. In particular, I’ve tuned in to hear their positions on education, and how they plan to help reform a system that ranks 25th in the world in math, graduates about three-fourths of its high school students, and where four out of five African-American children can’t read on grade level by the end of fourth grade.

With two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate behind us, education has only been brought up a handful of times. Neither Gov. Romney nor President Obama has provided enough details about how they would address the problems in our schools over the next four years. It’s too bad, because, like most Americans, I believe that a robust public education system can help solve so many of America’s problems, including fixing our struggling economy.

Experts agree that the quality of a country’s public education system (and the education level of its citizens) is one of, if not the strongest indicators of future prosperity. But our education system is broken, focused more on the needs of adults and special interests than children. Accountability, informed parents, and wise spending aren’t yet the norm. We need to hear more from both candidates about the challenges we face and how they would try to solve them.

It was disappointing that during the debate on Tuesday, the President had to bring education late in the conversation during a discussion about gun control, because it hadn't previously been touched upon. We cannot ignore the modern tragedy that millions of students don’t have access to the quality public education they both need and deserve.

It is incumbent upon all of us to remind all those running for office this year that we want to see our education system improve, and that they have a key role in making that happen. As Election Day nears, I look forward to hearing more from the candidates on this most urgent topic.

Topics: Education Research, Michelle Rhee, Students