Does education have to be a partisan issue — maybe not

Our nation has a two-party adversarial system of government, but do we always need to be adversaries?

In the past, leaders in Washington acted in a bipartisan or nonpartisan way on a number of important issues, chiefly foreign policy and education, however that’s no longer the case.

On Capitol Hill, we’re entering a period of bruising congressional foreign policy battles over Pacific trade, relations with Cuba and an Iranian arms deal. Do we also need to treat school children and education like Whack-a-Mole? Hopefully not, and there is reason to hope.

Recently, the United States Senate passed a major piece of education legislation where Tea Party Republicans and liberal Democrats found common ground.

Less hopeful are the signs from the field of Republican presidential candidates. Scott Walker recently gutted the budget for Wisconsin’s higher education system to show how tough he could be as a budget cutter on the campaign trail. While the Senate has backed away from the drill and kill approach where the answer to everything is testing students, Jeb Bush still is beating that drum. Jeb, Marco Rubio and their sparring partners want to privatize schools. Privatization isn’t a silver bullet — far from it.

Within walking distance from the White House, children attending DC’s public schools were served spoiled milk and fed Slim Jims as their main course by a food service operator last year that replaced the school district’s public employees. The vendor, Chartwells, ultimately had to reimburse DC’s public schools $19 million for their misdeeds.

Rather than serving up Slim Jims in the cafeteria or slimmed down education offerings in the classroom, instead of searching for a silver bullet, we need is to find serious leaders willing to cross the aisle and find common ground. In 2016, let’s support candidates who support public schools, teachers and the children they serve. Education doesn’t need to be a partisan issue.


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