Reimagining Education

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Kate Casas, State Policy Director, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri

Tonight is the third and final presidential debate between former Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. This debate is set to focus on foreign policy. As such, I expect to hear a lot about China’s growing dominance, the civil war in Syria, the nuclear threat posed by Iran, and the War on Terror. What I also hope hear is that reforming education is quite possibly the best way for America to address these issues.

I am hopeful that the candidates will point to reforming America’s mostly archaic educational system as a means for addressing foreign policy matters just as a taskforce convened by the Council of Foreign Relations reports that they should. The CFR task force, co-chaired by Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, found that “Educational failure puts the United States’ future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk…”

The report goes on to say:

“The lack of preparedness poses threats on five national security fronts: economic growth and competitiveness, physical safety, intellectual property, U.S. global awareness, and U.S. unity and cohesion, says the report. Too many young people are not employable in an increasingly high-skilled and global economy, and too many are not qualified to join the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records, or have an inadequate level of education.”

Additionally, the CFR Task Force recommends that implementing the three following policies before align seamlessly with CEAM’s policy agenda and more importantly will put America in a better, more prosperous global position:

  1. Implement educational expectations and assessments in subjects vital to protecting national security. “With the support of the federal government and industry partners, states should expand the Common Core State Standards, ensuring that students are mastering the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard the country’s national security.”
  2. Make structural changes to provide students with good choices. “Enhanced choice and competition, in an environment of equitable resource allocation, will fuel the innovation necessary to transform results.”
  3. Launch a “national security readiness audit” to hold schools and policymakers accountable for results and to raise public awareness. “There should be a coordinated, national effort to assess whether students are learning the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard America’s future security and prosperity. The results should be publicized to engage the American people in addressing problems and building on successes.”

I understand it is easy for the candidates to get caught up in all the tactics, politics, and short-term fixes associated with foreign relations today. However, I certainly hope they decide to take the long view tonight and tell the world how they plan to address our global problems at the source, the educational foundation we are providing our citizens.

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