The need for comprehensive education reform

Daily Editorial Board

With the election over, the time has come for President-elect Donald Trump to decide how, or — in some of his critics eyes — if he will address educational policy in this country and what to do to improve the myriad problems facing the United States education system.

Recently, Donald Trump announced his top choices for cabinet positions. One of the many red flags was the possibility of installing Dr. Ben Carson as Secretary of Education. While he has since turned down the position, reports say Trump has turned his attention to the even more controversial Michelle Rhee.

It’s important to realize the following: regardless of who is chosen to lead the education reform at the federal level, we think that there are certain steps that must be taken.

Policies that promote better pay for school teachers must be supported by the federal government with the hope that state governments will fall in step.

Research shows that diminished teacher retention rates cost school systems billions of dollars each year. This is because of the frequent cycling of temporary teachers, which leads to the dramatic decline in education efficiency experienced by schools. By paying teachers more and incentivizing them to stay in their professions for longer periods of time, schools wouldn’t constantly be on the hunt for any takers to fill their positions.

Other solutions include stronger education gap programs that invest in improving funding for schools in low-income communities. If paired with increased funding for arts and humanities, we can support holistic learning of students — as opposed to targeting only science, technology, engineering and math education.

Throughout the last two decades, there have been countless ‘fun’ names for education reform that really slide off the tongue, starting with the No Child Left Behind Act. But what if we took a few steps back and actually bear down with grit and gumption to significantly improve the education our kids receive? This especially important for those from tougher socioeconomic backgrounds or those from communities that haven’t been given resources they deserve.

We worry that will not be the case. Trump has already signaled — and if he appoints Michelle Rhee, it’s all but certain — that he is interested in funding public schools through a voucher program that favors private and charter institutions over conventional public schools.

That would be a nail in the coffin for our public schools. They simply would not be able to sustain themselves. We urge Trump to check his nonsensical rhetoric at the door and aim for more constructive means of education reform during his presidency.