Fourteen minutes and 50 seconds — by my count, that’s about how long the Democratic presidential candidates have spent talking about K-12 education over the last four debates.
Fourteen minutes and 50 seconds out of more than 12 hours of debates is not enough time to spend on a subject that affects 55 million students. Although our education system largely relies on decisions made at the state and local level, the president sets the tone and agenda for their party and wields significant influence over state leaders. With so many public schools that cannot keep up with our children’s needs, education reform deserves more time and attention on the national stage.
During the debates, most of the candidates’ ideas have centered on money: higher teachers’ salaries, more money for low-income schools, free college, and canceling student loan debts. But the kids they are trying to help won’t make it through high school if they are struggling to read and write in middle school.
Every student, no matter their race, ethnicity, or income level, should have access to a good education. But this isn’t only a money issue. The current debates are missing transformative ideas needed to help children learn. Where do candidates stand on universal vouchers, not tying school funding to property taxes, or reducing barriers to school choice and access to education?
Luma Mufleh is a 2019 Civil Society Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Mufleh is the inspirational founder and CEO of Fugees Family, Inc., the nation’s only school network dedicated to educating and empowering child survivors of war.
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