What could a Romney-Ryan ticket do for public education?
Possibly a lot.
Ryan argues that despite record investment in public education by federal, state and local governments over the past few decades, academic achievement has not seen a commensurate improvement, and the state of the American education system is sobering. Stagnant student achievement levels and exploding deficits, argues Ryan, have demonstrated that massive amounts of federal funding and top-down interventions are not the way to provide America's students with a high-quality education.
Ryan identifies many educational programs that are highly restricted, serving only a small number of students, or duplicative, such as the 82 programs that are designed to improve teacher quality, and argues that Congress must focus resources on programs that help students and reduce programs that are failing to improve student achievement.
Most don't want to talk about it -- the results of progressive policies -- high taxes, poor performing public schools and school gangs bred of broken homes and dependency on government with little to no assumption of individual responsibility. It's always someone else's fault.
Public mistrust of all things government, schools included, is at a new low making it hard for advocates of public schools to be heard amidst cries for dollars to follow the child. Hard talk about schools is hard to swallow and most don't want to engage, but it should not allow educators to lose focus on student achievement.
Student achievement matters. The Duval County Public Schools board recently chastised outgoing Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals, arguing they would not vote on his leadership recommendations until he first justified the picks with student achievement data and other supporting documentation.
"I am not in good conscience going to vote on one single, solitary thing until I see why, and what, and find out whether or not we've considered something else," board Chairwoman Betty Burney said, followed by board member W.C. Gentry, "I don't see how you can be transparent and have people believe these decisions are made based solely on merit when you have so many people married to each other."
Taxpayers deserve accountability on student achievement from every school leader and students should leave high school ready for the next leap. Paul Ryan believes it; Romney does too.
On the heels of former Gov. Jeb Bush's McKay program in Florida, Mitt Romney has an effective premise for his white paper on the portability of dollars to preferred schools. Since McKay emerged Florida has improved educational outcomes by saving tax dollars.
As it stands now senior taxpayers continue to take aim at their burden of school taxes given current anemic returns on investments. Student achievement lags. Bloated millage rates have simply not translated into better outcomes.
At some point taxpayers grow weary of the role of beast of burden and educators, all of us, need only wait until November to see just how weary the beasts have grown.
Jeff Meadors represents District 1 on the Newton County Board of Education.