Reforming our education system is a top priority here in Colorado. No matter how fast our economy grows or how many jobs we create, if we don’t educate our children, our country’s young people will not be able to compete on the global stage. We won’t be able to pull people out of poverty and into the middle class. And in this election the two candidates have offered clear educational choices.
President Obama often talks about education reform. While those of us who care about the issue appreciate his lip service, there is much more to be accomplished. We haven’t seen the results that we had hoped for, and
we haven’t seen the commitment to reform that President Obama promised in 2008. The reason isn’t hard to identify.
President Obama has been the beneficiary — throughout his political career — of support from teacher unions. In 2008, these unions poured over $50 million into efforts to elect President Obama and the Democratic Congress. They have endorsed Obama’s reelection and have taken additional funds out of teachers’ paychecks to fund his campaign. These same union leaders oppose many of the reforms that are critical to fixing our broken education system. President Obama is beholden to this special interest group and as such is not in a position to effect real and substantial changes that union leadership oppose.
Mitt Romney is committed to reforming education in a way that will give children the skills they need to succeed in a global economy. His approach involves two key reforms. Reward good teachers for their efforts and talents. Give youngsters the freedom and opportunity to attend good schools, no matter what their background or what they live.
We all know that schools are only as good as the teachers who teach in them. So it makes sense that our education system should encourage the best and brightest to enter the teaching profession and reward those who do. That means removing unnecessary obstacles to certification. It means block granting existing funds to states that encourage and reward the best teachers. Teaching is an honorable profession and should be treated as such.
But reform doesn’t end with teachers. It must also focus on the needs of students. We need to do more than pay lip service to children in poverty and to special needs students. Their parents have the same hopes and dreams for their children as you and I have for ours. By allowing families to choose their own schools and to use funds allocated to them to do so can go a long way to break the cycle of poverty. No child should succeed or fail solely based on his or her zip code.
By combining high standards, accountability, and great teaching along with Governor Romney’s bold plan to increase school choice and reward good teachers, families will have more control over their children’s education and ultimately, their future.
Sen. Nancy Spence currently represents Senate District 27 in Arapahoe County. A Republican, Spence is term limited and not seeking reelection.