Recently Michelle Obama spoke at the American School Counselor Association’s annual conference and, once again, the First Lady missed the mark on education. Instead of focusing on building a solid foundation, Obama rolled out new initiatives that seek to bolster college attendance rates while managing to have no focus on students.
The initiatives, which fall under the First Lady’s goal of getting students to “reach higher,” were explained as:
- Schools using their budgets to create professional development for school counselors.
- The White House partnering with the Harvard Graduate School of Education and others for an event about college counseling.
- A White House ceremony for a new School Counselor of the Year award.
Ultimately, the administration would like the United States to have more students in college than any other country in the world by 2020. The quality of education students receive before going to college doesn’t seem to be on The First Lady’s agenda.
According to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice 2014 Schooling in America Survey, the majority of Americans think that K-12 education has gotten off on the “wrong track.” While the White House believes that the federal government can improve education, the Friedman Foundation also found that 74% of Americans feel the government has done a poor job in education. Current data shows Americans are correct in their disapproval of public education.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that less than 50% of public school 4th and 8th graders are at or above the proficient level in math and reading. Additionally, only 32% of public school 8th grade students are proficient in science. NAEP also reported that private and Catholic school 8th graders historically and currently continue to score better in science than their public school peers. With US jobs trending towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, the findings within the NAEP report should be cause for serious alarm for the future of our students and country. Public schools are clearly failing to educate students in America and the need for school choice is obvious.
Fortunately, whether the Obama administration agrees or not, the majority of Americans support school choice. In her book “Opportunity and Hope,” New York Post Columnist Naomi Schaefer Riley details how the lives of ten students across the country were changed thanks to the Children’s Scholarship Fund allowing them to choose schools that best fit their needs. Riley's book proves that school choice plays a crucial role in achieving "the American Dream" and ensures that students' futures are not determined by their zip code.
If the administration wants to see more students attending college, they need to get behind what is actually working in school. In addition to the inspirational stories found in Riley's book, the Franklin Center has a new video in which the successes of school choice can be seen in action in Milwaukee.