The Missing Ingredient to Education Innovation: Choice

While a recent Council on Foreign Relations Task force report indicated that we need national standards of which I vehemently disagree.  They also determined that choice in education was necessary to achieve educational innovation, this I totally agree with.  Joe Klein a member of the task force and former New York City schools chancellor wrote about school choice in a recent op/ed for New York Daily News:

Today, even as students in Asia and Europe are making rapid academic gains and surpassing American students in core subjects, only a third of U.S. students are proficient in math, reading and science, and only a quarter of our high school graduates are considered college ready.

Why is innovation lacking in U.S. education?

I believe America is missing an ingredient that is key to education innovation: choice.

The Council on Foreign Relations Task Force report that came out this week, which I co-chaired, notes that choice and competition have the power to spur the innovations we need in our public schools. This is essential if we are going to help our students achieve the American dream in an ever competitive environment and if we are going to protect our nation’s cohesiveness, prosperity and ability to lead.

In an ideal world, every neighborhood’s school would already provide a world-class education to all students, but that is sadly not the world in which we live. Just hoping that these schools improve — or investing more in the status quo — is not a strategy that will create the needed change.

Today, the only families that can opt out of a failing school are families with financial means. This leaves poor children trapped in failing schools. This is the worst form of inequality.

Public school choice, charter schools and vouchers like the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships help to level the playing field for families and encourage educators to think creatively about how to best serve students and families. Coupled with necessary resources, well-prepared educators, and strong curricula, I believe that choice has the power to improve the overall quality of education we are providing to our students.