Although the results are not yet official, it looks like education reform is here to stay in Douglas County. After a highly contested race that captured the nation’s attention, the four pro-reform candidates were victorious. This isn’t just a victory for those four candidates, it is a victory for parents and students who will undoubtedly benefit from the positive changes the Board of Education has and will continue to put forth.
I have written a lot about the amazing things happening in the Douglas County School District, but you may have noticed that during this contentious school board race I haven't written much. I have been covering the race for RevealingPolitics.com, so you can check out my writing there.
But, tomorrow is a big day - Election Day! We will see if people believe in the successful reforms of the current BoE in Douglas County that have made it the most interesting school district in the country, or if they've bought into the false narrative of the union-endorsed candidates that the reforms aren't working.
Republican presidential nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, attended the Education Nation 2012 Summit Tuesday, saying a few words before taking questions from NBC’s Brian Williams and the audience, portions of which were aired Wednesday on the Today Show’s Education Nation (you can see the video hereand read the full transcript here). Governor Romney offered a contrast to President Obama on education reform, particularly in regards to the President’s assertion that criticizing teachers unions is equivalent to “teacher-bashing.” Among the many education issues covered during his appearance, Governor Romney did indeed address the issue of teachers unions that often hold back reform. But he also discussed the importance and of the role of teachers and the value we should place on the profession.
President Obama appeared this morning on the Today show’s “Education Nation” on NBC (see the video here). In the interview Savannah Guthrie began by asking the President about the recent teachers union strike in his hometown of Chicago. Specifically Ms. Guthrie addressed how the strike put Democrats who support education reform in a difficult position, as they have traditionally sided with unions. Ms. Guthrie quoted the Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, as saying that President Obama chose his side – the unions. Obama responded that “Governor Romney and a number of folks try to politicize the issue and do a lot of teacher-bashing.” Ms. Guthrie struck back asking, “can you really say that teachers unions aren’t slowing the pace of reform?” President Obama went on the defensive replying, “I just get really frustrated when I hear teacher-bashing as evidence of reform.”
Developing good teachers has been both a controversial and imperative aspect of K-12 education reform. In fact, quality teachers have the most effective impact on student achievement within the school environment. Studies, such as the Rivkin, Hanushek, and Kain study from the University of Texas at Dallas, have found that quality teaching for four consecutive years could successfully eliminate the achievement gap. Teachers are no doubt important; however the role of principals and other education leaders in school reform is often overlooked, though it is just as crucial to achieving effective education reform.
“If ever there was a cause, if ever there can be a cause, worthy to be upheld by all of toil to sacrifice that the human heart can endure, it is the cause of Education." – Horace Mann
While I may not agree with Horace Mann’s approach to education reform, I could not agree more with his words above. Educating our children is essential to ensuring the future prosperity of the county, and – hopefully – the prosperous futures of the students themselves. Just providing an education is not enough; we must be able to provide quality education that will give kids the skills they need to be successful.
I graduated from the University of Denver with a B.A. in History (minor in Political Science) and the University of Wyoming with a Master of Public Administration. I am an experienced copywriter and content manager. I am also a former intern/research associate for the Education Policy Center at the Independence Institute in Denver, Colorado and have previously blogged for National School Choice Week.