A few of you asked that we discuss Condoleezza Rice’s education comments from her speech last night at the Republican National Convention.
Overall, her comments on education were the standard stuff: We need better teachers, higher standards and greater choice.
Since Rice’s speech focused on all the issues in this election with a wide-angle lens, she didn’t go deep on how to achieve those goals. And those goals are not as straightforward as they sound.
For example, the research suggests that pay alone will not entice the brightest college students to consider teaching; we also need to raise the stature of the profession.
And the question around standards, as always, is who sets the standards? We are now following standards set by a national group of state leaders, of which former Gov. Sonny Perdue was a co-chair.
Rice mentioned “greater choice” without mention of either charter schools or vouchers.
Here is the part of her speech where she addressed education:
We have been successful too because Americans have known that one’s status at birth was not a permanent station in life. You might not be able to control your circumstances but you could control your response to your circumstances. And your greatest ally in doing so was a quality education.
Let me ask you, though, today, when I can look at your zip code and can tell whether you are going to get a good education – can I really say that it doesn’t matter where you came from – it matters where you are going. The crisis in K-12 education is a grave threat to who we are.
My mom was a teacher – I have the greatest respect for the profession – we need great teachers – not poor or mediocre ones. We need to have high standards for our students – self-esteem comes from achievement not from lax standards and false praise. And we need to give parents greater choice – particularly poor parents whose kids – most often minorities — are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights struggle of our day.
If we do anything less, we will condemn generations to joblessness, hopelessness and dependence on the government dole. To do anything less is to endanger our global economic competitiveness. To do anything less is to tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement a turn toward grievance and entitlement.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog