Education? Not familiar with that term

Watching the recent Republican sniping session, one would think that there exist (1) a reasonable alternative to Obamacare, (2) consensus on minimum wage, (3) little interest in tax reform, and (4) the best gosh-darn education system in the whole wide world.

Let’s go right to (4) and save the others for another day.

Millions of American children are trapped in decrepit, underfunded, and failing schools. To some the answer is moving the children to one that isn’t failing, but that merely exacerbates an already untenable situation. If education is truly democratic, there should no such thing as a failing school. Would we tolerate a failing hospital? A failing fire department?

Is it a social issue? Are failing schools the result of failing families and does the federal government need to do more to prevent people from sinking into poverty and want? Is that where the minimum wage enters in?

Do we need to pay teachers more and do we need a fair evaluative system to remove those who are not doing their jobs? As a former teacher, the prospect of some half-baked evaluation process scares me; but there should be an equitable method to accomplish a reasonable goal.

Political candidates need to discuss this, not just respond to other candidates’ miscues and goofs. And I mean Democrats too. Debates should be more than morning-after discussions of who “got” whom: they should tell us something about policy and philosophy. Imagine if everyone’s bad boy Donald Trump had said somewhere along the line, “I’d like to talk about the failing schools in this country—I have a plan to make all of them better.” If he had (and I know that’s a stretch) then instead of laughing at his 1900-mile fence, we’d be saying, grudgingly, “yeah, he’s kind of an oddball, but that thing about education wasn’t bad.”

We’re not stupid people—all we want is some ideas, along with the knowledge that the men and women who aspire to the presidency actually have some.

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