In a letter published in The Jersey Journal prior to the 2017 election, Jersey City Board of Education member Marilyn Roman expressed disappointment that the candidates didn’t pay more attention to education. In Education has to be the top priority for candidates, Roman wrote,
The issues the group wanted both Mayor Fulop and Mr. Matsikoudis to address were to be limited to jobs, affordable housing and safety all of which are relevant issues in our city. It occurred to me, however, that while the group made some mention of education, it was not really addressed by both candidates. It was the missing component, but it is the piece that makes all of the other issues come together. No one seemed to pick up education as a key component toward making everything else fall into place.
In the 21st century economy of today, it is extremely difficult to get a good job unless you have an education and for the most part that education has to be geared to a field where there is a need for qualified personnel. When this country entered the global economy, they neglected to gear up the education community properly toward providing the skills necessary to succeed in the jobs market of the future and the future has arrived and we do not have enough people with the skills to fill the jobs that are needed.
I left these comments:
We don’t need politicians addressing education. They’ve been doing that for decades. This letter could have been written 40 years ago. I recently listened to NY Mayor Bill De Blasio, speaking on CNBC post-election, urge us to “fix our educational system.” It’s the same old mantra. Everyone from the president on down has got their scheme to fix what can’t be fixed–our one-size-fits-all, monopolized government education establishment.
We need to get politicians out of education and get the parents and educators in charge. There are various ways to accomplish this. While I don’t believe in the morality of wealth redistribution, Americans won’t accept a fully free education market at this time. What we can do is redirect the dollars now spent on each child’s schooling by recognizing the moral right of parents to direct the course of their own children’s education through universal school choice. This can be accomplished by essentially giving the education tax dollars now spent on each child to the parents, to use according to their own judgement. Tax credits can accomplish that. Education savings accounts (ESAs) is another way .* This will open up the flood gates to the kind of entrepreneurial investment, innovation, experimentation, and competition that leads to refreshing new ideas and methods that can make excellence in education a reality.
As Ms. Roman observes, “When this country entered the global economy, they neglected to gear up the education community properly toward providing the skills necessary to succeed in the jobs market of the future and the future has arrived and we do not have enough people with the skills to fill the jobs that are needed.” But central planning essentially forbids people from “gearing up,” by smothering individual judgement under government mandates. How long is this failure of politicized education going to be tolerated? When will we learn that you can’t foster a competitive workforce geared to a competitive world economy on the back of an uncompetitive, monopolistic education system? It’s time that the future arrived in American education, as well.
* I’m thinking of ESAs that allow parents who withdraw their child from the public schools (traditional or charter) to have the per-pupil cost of their district’s schools deposited into a special account that parents can use toward their child’s education. They would keep any unspent money and use it toward other purposes, such as college expenses.