Let’s Make Education a Priority in the Presidential Debates

By Kelly Reynolds

After watching the first presidential debate Wednesday night, it seems that education is a topic which both presidential candidates closely align. President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney agree that education plays a monumental role in the success of the economy. So, it was disheartening to hear how little education was discussed in Denver the other night.

While both candidates touched on the need to invest in education to close the growing skills gap, both Obama and Romney failed to elaborate on the policies they would implement to reform and improve our failing education system.

Thirty percent of students fail to graduate high school in four years —and the dropout rate is more than 50% for African-Americans and Hispanics. A majority of 4th and 8th graders are not proficient in reading or math. Currently, there are more than 3 million jobs in the United States that remain unfilled due to an unskilled workforce. Students graduating from high schools and universities today are not equipped with the skills necessary to be employable. While it is promising to see that education reform is becoming more bipartisan, we would really like to hear more about how each individual candidate plans to fix a broken system.

Some questions that we would like to hear answers to are:

  • What role does school choice play in their proposals?
  • What would they do to help ensure every child is taught by an excellent teacher?
  • How do they intend to close the achievement gap?
  • How would they stem the tide of the dropout crisis in the country?

The next presidential debate on October 16th will be in a town hall format and we hope education will be addressed more than in Denver. While it is easy for education to be pushed under the rug in times of economic unrest, we need to make sure education policies are considered a priority. Reforming our failing schools is no longer something we can afford to put off.

Kelly Reynolds is a Fall 2012 intern at ICW.