The US Presidential election result represents a profound mistake by the American electorate and indicates a depressing lack of American self belief. Crucial to President Obama's re-election was the huge turnout and overwhelming support of black Americans. The irony is that they, or their children, will be the greatest victims of this election result. It is black children in the US who suffer most from bad schools.
Mitt Romney would have pushed through reforms to promote school choice. President Obama, while sending his own children to fee paying schools, has stalled on that agenda – while the main teaching union the National Education Association spends vast sums backing Democrat candidates and opposing Republicans.
There is some good news in the local elections. In North Carolina the Republican candidate, Pat McCrory, was elected Governor. The NEA paid $144,000 to try to defeat him. No wonder. Look at the priority he gives to school choice.
Mr McCrory says:
North Carolina high schools are failing to graduate 22% of our students. Young people who drop out of high school have few if any marketable job skills and are often so deficient in basic verbal and
math competency as to be unable to complete a routine job application.
While lifting the cap on charter schools was a great first step, we must be careful that a slow moving process for approving new charter schools would act as a de facto cap. Therefore, we must address the thousands of families on waiting lists for charter schools in addition to the dozens of charter schools waiting to open. We must implement a process to ensure that parents and students are not left in limbo on their school options.
He says good teachers should be rewarded – a source of outrage to the NEA:
Researchers identify teacher quality as the main in-school factor affecting students’ academic achievement. Therefore, the most important reform North Carolina could implement would be to keep the best teachers in the classroom. Some teachers are able to ignite a spark in a student that will have an impact on his or her learning from that point forward. North Carolina is blessed with many outstanding teachers who should be rewarded for the impact they have on the lives of our young people. Every student, every parent and every principal knows who the good teachers are. We will reform our pay system to reward teachers for the job they do instead of just the number of years they teach.
He also stood on the promise of more accountability and transparency for schools:
The only way to measure success is to test student achievement in reading and mathematics in an unbiased and objective exam based on basic skills rather than curriculum. Each school’s test results will be evaluated for both proficiency and learning gains of students. Half the grade a school receives will be based on students’ achievement levels – the percentage of students scoring at or above grade level in reading and math. The remaining half will be based on individual student learning gains – the percentage of students who made progress in reading and math from his or her achievement level the prior year.
By making progress as important as proficiency, we will provide a powerful incentive for schools to get even the most disadvantaged students moving in the right direction. Grading schools will establish transparent, objective, and easily understood data to parents, educators and the public, and will spur improvement among all schools.
It's all very well for those who can afford school fees, like President Obama. For the millions of parents in North Carolina, a quarter of whom are black, the election of Mr McCrory represents hope.