Our country’s future success rests on the quality of education the next generation of Americans receives. We will simply not be able to supply the engaged and skilled workforce our economy needs while relying on an education system built for the distant past.
Education reform must become a priority if America’s students are to attain a future of prosperity and fruitfulness. Many states are looking to Florida for inspiration, as the state became a model of productive education reform under the leadership of Jeb Bush.
Bush recently returned to the Foundation for Excellence in Education, an organization dedicated to education reform that he launched in 2008 and has much to say about increasing opportunities for students. Like us, he believes the stakes are high for our country. As he wrote in a recent piece in National Review:
“A report out last November by McKinsey & Company forecasted that nearly half of the jobs American workers are paid to perform — representing $2 trillion in wages annually in the U.S. — could be automated in some way using current technology.
To put it bluntly, a baby born into poverty today, without a quality education, will never be able to secure a good job in his or her lifetime. Education should be the great equalizer in our society, one that provides the opportunity for every individual to rise, yet sadly, the divide has gotten bigger and bigger.”
Fortunately, the extensive problems within our education systems can be addressed by innovative policies and common-sense solutions. Bush hopes that states will “wholly embrace the power that technology has to positively reorder the failed system,” and we believe South Carolina can do just that by implementing Course Access programs.
Course Access is an initiative to let students learn from approved providers outside their school. This would allow technology to give students a tailored education experience and choice. A student could take a virtual class in a subject not offered at his or her school and earn credit.
We also need to make sure that in our existing classrooms teachers are supported by fair policies that reward their efforts and performance. In the schools of the future, “Excellence isn’t collectively bargained away,” Bush says.
Education Savings Accounts, charter schools, magnet schools and other school choice options can also breathe new life into the failing status quo. When states begin listening to the data, not special interests, Bush believes that we can really begin to support students…
“The challenge is unprecedented, but there is reason to be optimistic. Confronted with escalating costs and mediocre results, more and more states are embracing daring reforms. They understand that their future is sitting in their classrooms today.
Allegiances to the past must give way to an education system relevant to tomorrow.”
The future will not wait. Our students urgently need an education system that works for this century and for them. With your help, South Carolina can become a place where all students, regardless of background, race or wealth, can find the promise of America.