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A Call for Candidates – How We Expect Our Leaders to Speak

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The other day we developed and distributed our wishlist for the State of The Union and what we hoped to hear the president discuss. While he touched on education more than in most previous speeches and amplified the importance of technology and preparing students for the future, we were looking for more about the most important quest this nation faces – the importance of ensuring opportunity for every child, and underserved and unsatisfied students.

So with another important national event happening tonight — the Republican Presidential debates — we offer the same, consistent vision for how we expect our leaders to speak. Once again, our recommendations reflect the philosophies of those who work on the ground daily to advance innovation, freedom, and flexibility in American education. To all you candidates, please consider and lend your voice to the following important guidelines by which all efforts should be driven:

Education is not about space, a place, or time. Education is not a brick and mortar building; it is not about one person, concentrated on one methodology, or about one option. Innovative education transcends such confines to ensure that our students are prepared to be the future of our country.

  • WE MUST DO BETTER. Despite national graduation rates touted at 82%, our students still lack proficiency in the basic necessities of life such as reading and mathematics; and do not possess the knowledge necessary to preserve our freedom and ensure America’s national and international success.
  • EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITY AGENDA. America needs educational opportunity for every child, regardless of zip code, time, and place. From Pre-K through post-secondary education, candidates could consider informing the American people that ‘one size fits all’ education is an archaic vision that negatively impacts our children, specifically those who lack opportunity. Students of all ages should have the opportunity to access classes, programs, and schools both online and on site; and be rewarded for their unique contributions and accomplishments.
  • BE BOLD. Candidates must speak about and demonstrate their commitment to being “big and bold.” We must erase the boundaries that lock kids into seats at the expense of progress.
  • FREEDOM AND FLEXIBILITY. Opportunity isn’t something that the President can or should define…this definition should be left to American citizens. To accomplish this goal, citizens need the freedom to spend their tax dollars where they choose, and the ability to support the concept that parents should be recognized and empowered as the first and most important teacher that children have.
  • INSIST ON INNOVATION. Each state has tackled innovation and reform in different ways. Charter school laws differ state to state, and scholarship and voucher programs vary in scope and substance. Many states employed rigorous, high-stakes standards of learning prior to the national debate over Common Core. Equally, there are still states that have their heads buried in the sand, in desperate need of a jolt to get on board with innovation, equality, and opportunity.

There is no education issue that has not already been debated, discussed, or dueled over…

  • STATES ARE THE LABORATORY FOR CHANGE. Similarly, there is not one issue that has not been studied, researched, validated and also dismissed. The states have been and continue to be laboratories of innovation. The states are where the status quo in education was first challenged, and where a new paradigm for schooling will continue to evolve.
  • LET’S NOT FEAR UPSETTING THE STATUS QUO. We know now, and have always known what works. We need the courage to say so – at all levels. Without a President willing to exercise his bully pulpit to shine the light on success, to ensure that federal policy follows state policy, and to call attention to that which we have failed to achieve, we will not succeed.

Stay tuned to edreform.com for more insight on all candidates leading up to the election!

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