Five Questions to ask Presidential Candidates about K-12 Education

What is more important than K-12 education to prepare students for jobs that don’t exist, using technologies not yet created, to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet? What is more important than K-12 education for America to compete in the global marketplace?

You would think education would lead every presidential debate. But rarely is there even a question asked.

The Seventy Four is trying to change that. They hosted an “Education Summit” for Republican candidates yesterday in New Hampshire, and will host another for Democratic candidates in Iowa during October.

What key questions should we ask our presidential candidates? Nina Rees, former policy assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney and current leader of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, suggests these five education questions for the GOP field in her recent US News column. Here is my take on her questions, for all presidential candidates.

Which federal programs will you support and which will you eliminate? In other words, what will you support in your proposed budgets, and what will you cut? If the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is ever reauthorized, that will shape parameters of education policy for the next five years. And how much will your budgets invest in personalized learning tools necessary for 21st century education?

How will you support parental choice? Closer to my heart, how will you support chartering in the states? The federal Charter Schools Program, including start-up funding and facilities financing, is key to success of charter schools throughout the nation. How will your policies insure that limited funding resources are directed to states whose laws contain fundamental elements of chartering, such as autonomy and innovation?

Which federal rules and regulations will you amend or leverage? How might the next secretary of education use federal regulations to incentivize states to try new ideas, such as growing teacher-powered schools?

What will you do to support better research on vital education topics? We know that having a high-quality teacher is a key indicator of a student’s performance. Why haven’t we invested more in developing proven teacher-training methods or delivering tools that teachers need to be effective?

How will you use your bully pulpit to talk about education and its importance today in reaching the American dream? The president’s priorities become the nation’s priorities. Whether a candidate touts a broad or limited federal role in education, presidents can set the vision for connecting education achievement with global competitiveness, and for insisting that every child deserves an effective education—not just those living in certain zip codes.

Take a stand to insure your 2016 presidential candidates move K-12 education near the top of their priority lists in this presidential campaign!