President-elect Joe Biden's nomination of Miguel Cardona as the new Secretary of Education provides a glimmer of hope for improving education results for minorities and the poor. He is supposedly a strong supporter of public education, but he also appears to have an independent streak.
That is why I believe there is a ray of hope for those students who have been left behind by public education. If he encourages state legislators to stop throwing money at public schools that chronically fail to improve, and if he helps by targeting a large percentage of federal funds to help the students in these failing schools, this would be a refreshing wind of change.
There must be options for students in the big metropolitan areas who are attending failing schools. Baltimore is a good example. There are a number of fine public schools in Baltimore: I graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic in 1963 and it is still considered a top-notch high school. However, there are other schools where despite years of increased spending, they continue to fail students who attend them. More importantly, they are creating an increasingly large group of adults who are poorly educated and unprepared for success in life. They have no hope.
For these students (especially in the elementary grades), their parents need options to extricate them from these schools before it is too late. The options are: 1. more independent, i.e. free of teacher union interference, charter schools, or 2. access to private schools with the use of vouchers. The Legislature has a real opportunity to do the right thing by using some federal funding, if approved, and by reallocating some funds from failing schools and offering these alternatives to caring parents. If they have the will to stand up to the teacher unions and if Secretary Cardona will support them, it will make a dramatic difference over time.
Our founding fathers believed our republic could only survive if the people were well informed and well educated. If we blindly continue down our current path, the future does not look good for future generations or our system of government.