During the 2012 Republican National Convention, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice addressed an issue that has been widely absent from any recent and serious conversation in American politics, ominously warning that the education crisis is “a threat to the very fabric of who we are.” As the United States remains preoccupied with rejuvenating a sluggish economy and combating rising deficits, education reform has largely been placed on the backburner. Yet, education has the power to reverse these afflictions and ultimately holds the key to creating sustainable, long-term economic growth and greater prosperity for more Americans.
The sad truth is that the United States education system has fallen behind, ranking 17th in the developed world according to Pearson Education, Inc. We need to act quickly and implement meaningful reforms; otherwise, there will be much greater uncertainty about our country’s future. There is a medley of changes that the government can undertake to improve our education system, ranging from increasing the length of the school year to implementing more English as a second language (ESL) programs. Such reforms would place America’s school year length back on par with that of other developed countries and address overlooked children who are falling behind simply because English is not their first language. And these are just a sampling of some of the policy alterations that our country should consider implementing.
One of the most meaningful reforms we could implement at the federal level is school choice. There are many different models for school choice, but the underlying principle is the same: allowing parents to send their children a variety of different institutions ranging from charter schools to private and public schools. The most common method implemented for bringing about school choice is educational vouchers, which allow parents and their children to receive a coupon of sorts that can be redeemed at a public or a private school of their choice.