Education: GOP Convention Edition 2012

Last week, the Republican National Convention met in Tampa, Florida to nominate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) as its presidential ticket for this November.  While education was a not a major focus of the convention, there were some real gems offered up.

No, Eduflack is not talking about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s “stand” on teacher tenure and collective bargaining.  I’m talking about the remarks delivered by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Secretary of State Condi Rice.
From Jeb:
We say that every child in America has an equal opportunity, but tell that to a kid whose classroom learning is not respected.  Tell that to a parent stuck at a school where there is no leadership.  Tell that to a young, talented teacher who just got laid off because she didn’t have tenure.  The sad truth is that equality of opportunity doesn’t exist in many of our schools.  We give some kids a chance, but not all.  That failure is the great moral and economic issue of our time and it is hurting all of America.

I believe we can meet this challenge.  We need to set high standards for students and teachers, and provide students and their parents the choices they deserve.

The first step is a simple one.  We must stop prejudging children based on their race, ethnicity, or household income.  We must stop excusing failure in our schools and state removing — start rewarding improvement and success.  We must have high academic standards that are benchmarked to the best of the world.  You see, all kids can learn.  Governor Romney believes it, and the data proves it.
And from Condi:
We have been successful because Americans have known that one’s status of birth is not a permanent condition.  Americans have believed that you might not be able to control your circumstances but you can control your response to your circumstances.

And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education.  But today, today when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you’re going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going?  The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.

My mom was a teacher.  I respect the profession.  We need great teachers, not poor ones and not mediocre ones.  We have to have high standards for our kids, because 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, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools.  This is the civil rights issue of our day.
Some pretty powerful words from those who know what they are talking about.  Just take a look at Bush’s record in Florida, particularly his efforts to boost reading proficiency in our youngest students.  And Rice is now back at her perch at Stanford University, most likely the top higher education institution in the United States.
This week, it will be the Democrats’ turn in Charlotte.  Who will step up and out-education Jeb Bush?

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