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The Education Issue We Should Debate This Election Year: School Choice

The Common Core controversy is mostly forgotten. But traditional public schools are still shortchanging many children.

by Jason Riley
Wall Street Journal
February 16, 2016

Education has not been the election-year issue for Republicans that some expected last summer, when the presidential race was getting started and conservatives’ denunciation of the Common Core standards was all the rage. “Common Core might be the most important issue in the 2016 Republican presidential race,” declared the Washington Post in July. Fortunately, that hasn’t occurred.

The national reading and math standards, adopted by 43 states at the urging of the Obama administration, were seen as a kind of litmus test for GOP candidates. Republican primary voters, it was predicted, would not abide someone who favored more federal control over K-12 schooling. So far, however, Common Core hasn’t been much of a factor.

Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie, who opposed the initiative (after first backing it), are out of the race. So are Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two staunch opponents of Common Core. John Kasich and Jeb Bush, who support national standards, are still around. Donald Trump is anti-Common Core, but that hardly explains his large lead in national polling.

Supporters of Common Core operate on the assumption that national standards are essential to lifting academic performance. But there is scant evidence that a new benchmark will produce better outcomes. Studies that compare state standards and test scores show zero correlation between high-quality standards and high performance. Putting quality teachers in the classroom would go a lot further than uniform standards toward improving test scores.

The bigger problem with even the modest attention given to Common Core in the campaign is that it detracts from the much more important discussion about school choice. Jeb Bush spends time defending Common Core that would

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Once, I Went to a Foreign Policy Debate … and an Education Fight Broke Out

by Jeanne Allen
October 23, 2012

Some were confused that the presidential candidates in last night’s debate, ostensibly about foreign policy, pivoted so often to the education and the economy. I was surprised, too, but I didn’t share the view that these subjects were “off topic.” Both candidates recognize that for the U.S. to remain competitive abroad and safe at home, we must have a solid domestic foundation, including a robust education system that produces citizens who can compete in the global economy, and who are qualified to protect us.

Prior to the debate, I suggested there were two critical education reform questions that needed to be addressed – national security and competitiveness. I was pleasantly surprised that not only did the candidates address both, but that they went further, discussing the skills gap, teachers, and how education is a driver of economic success.

Some highlights:

• Governor Romney discussed the need to put parents, teachers, and kids first, and asserted that the teachers unions to get behind this principle.

• President Obama talked about the need for more math and science teachers, since American students lag many other developed nations in those subjects. He made the point that our success in these areas will determine whether we have the highly skilled workforce necessary for new business creation, and to make the U.S. attractive to investment.

• Romney talked about the lack of jobs for kids coming out of college and that we can’t fix the economy without fixing that.

• Obama said that if we don’t have the best education system in the world, we will lose our competitive edge over other countries. He argued that Romney’s budget would cut education

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Where do Romney, Obama stand on education?

FOX News
September 11, 2012

CER President Jeanne Allen says any president that doesn’t make education a central issue deserves a “C”.

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