Education Policy Experts React to Education Summit, Highlight Importance of Thoughtful Discussion of School Choice

Published September 27, 2015

The Seventy Four, an education news website, hosted its Education Summit on August 19, at which the following prominent Republicans attended and spoke: former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.

The presidential hopefuls emphasized the importance of school choice.

Kevin Kane, the president of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, says the emphasis on choice is necessary for the potential GOP candidates.

“Two or three election cycles ago, Republican candidates might talk about education reform, but it was really more in the abstract,” said Kane. “Now, as more and more states have expanded charter schools or started voucher programs … school choice is not just a concept. Now candidates are at a point where it’s not enough to say you’re in favor of school choice.”

The summit highlighted a shift in the nation’s recognition of education reform, says Leslie Hiner, vice president of programs and state relations at the Friedman Foundation.

“This is really the first time, in modern times … [there has been] a vigorous election with school choice,” Hiner said. “The discussion is really alive around the country.”

Matt Ladner, senior advisor for policy and research at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, says the next president must disrupt the educational status quo since there is a looming increase in the size of the K–12 population.

“We need a set of rational policies to adjust to reality,” said Ladner. “The federal government is a source of a relatively small amount of K–12 money and a relatively large amount of paperwork. One of the best things Uncle Sam could do would be to lighten his regulatory footprint in the states so that districts could shift resources to instruction and away from compliance.”

Ashley Bateman ([email protected]) writes from Alexandria, Virginia.

Image by Michael Vadon.