The education reform debate is raging across the county, in classrooms, in union halls, in legislatures, and at coffee tables; but unfortunately, it has barely registered in the presidential campaign. As moderators of the upcoming 2012 presidential debates, you have an opportunity to change that. We urge you to do so.
You have been given the awesome responsibility of directing the policy discussion for the two candidates seeking the presidency of the United States, in front of an audience of tens of millions of Americans. And while we have been assured that the economy, jobs, and foreign policy will be an important focus of the debates, we have not received the same assurances that education reform will be given the same level of attention.
In a study conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2011, that measured how students in 65 countries performed in reading, science, and math, the United States ranked 15th, 23rd, and 31st, respectively. While 8% unemployment is unacceptable to the American public, so too are these rankings, but despite these figures, education reform has barely broken through as a major issue this election season. It’s vital that you require the candidates engage these troubling statistics and ask them to present their plans for turning them around. Where do the candidates stand on reform issues like standards and accountability, school choice, arts in education, teacher pay and evaluation, tenure, and so much more.
In the coming weeks while you develop and prepare the questions for the candidates, we urge you to make education reform a significant topic for debate. As moderators of these debates, you have the unique opportunity to elevate the conversation on education reform that is occurring in our schools, in our communities, and within our families, and bring it to the national stage, where it belongs. We hope you do so.