“The proper role of government is not to guarantee equality of outcomes, but equality of opportunity. That means we have a moral duty to ensure all children have access to an excellent public school.” – Ed Gillespie
As governor, Ed will work to ensure that every child has the opportunity for quality, personalized learning. In the past four years, Virginia dropped ten spots in Education Week Rankings from number four to 14. Just 10 years ago, Virginia ranked number one in the country. It’s T.I.M.E. for a student-centered education plan for the 21st Century. His education agenda is framed around four key priorities:
From the moment a child is born, parents want their child to get a good start in life and receive a good education, but many Virginians increasingly see their child’s future as uncertain. Unlike past generations that had confidence the next generation could do better, parents today are unsure what the future holds for their children.
Creating a better future starts with a quality education that provides a strong foundation for young learners and prepares students for success. From early childhood education through high school and onward to postsecondary education, Virginians need a strong education system providing school age children every opportunity to succeed. While Virginia has an excellent education system, the reality is that too many of our young people are entering the workforce without the skills they need to get good paying jobs. Too many students graduate high school unprepared for college or the workforce. And too many children lack the opportunities they deserve and are forced into failing schools because of the zip code in which they live.
Much of this stems from a rigid, top-down educational structure imposing unnecessary mandates on schools and teachers, stifling innovation, and diverting funds that would be better spent in the classroom and various alternatives which show great potential.
This system is no longer adequate for a diverse Virginia. We are a state with three of the five wealthiest counties in America – and also one with 18 school systems in which more than 70 percent of the children are poor enough to receive free and reduced-priced meals. We are a state with some of the most powerful technology companies in the world – but also one where children have to do their after-school research at McDonald’s or the public library because their neighborhoods lack internet access. We are a state with overcrowded classrooms – and schools with rapidly declining enrollment.
A “one size fits all” system will no longer work in Virginia. The challenge for our next governor is to make sure that all students – no matter where they live – have the opportunity to reach their full potential and that our high school and college graduates are career-ready on day one, prepared with skills for life.
Ed’s agenda of teacher leadership, innovation, more opportunities, and excellence puts students first by giving families and schools the tools they need to help children reach their full potential. Ed will channel more money into the classroom, reform our system to give teachers and schools more flexibility and move Virginia toward personalized learning for all children. Ed and his team, working with the General Assembly and stakeholders, will tackle the challenge of failing schools head-on and meet our constitutional responsibility to ensure that every child, in every community, has access to a high quality, safe and student-focused public education. Ed will work with local educators, institutions of higher education and businesses to reform and better align our workforce development system with the demands of the marketplace of today and the future.
Virginia is blessed to be home to teachers and school leaders who view their work as a calling, a mission to provide opportunity and enrichment to a new generation. We must do more to support teachers and school leaders to do what is in the best interest of the child.
We all want to challenge children to reach as high as they can. But an overly restrictive system inhibits teachers from challenging their students. To succeed in the 21st Century, education needs to drive instructional decision-making as close to the classroom as possible. Only then can we create an accountability system based on measuring outcomes, rather than inputs.
Every child is unique, which is why families should have a variety of options when deciding how to educate their children. Creating new opportunities is about making public schools better, and giving families the freedom to choose the school that will help their children learn and grow. When parents are empowered to make the decisions that are best for their children, students will benefit from personalized learning.
Many of the following initiatives have succeeded with broad bipartisan support in both “red” and “blue” states, and there is no reason that Republicans and Democrats can’t come together here in Virginia as they have across the county to drop lifelines to kids in failing school divisions. We must unleash the potential and talents of these children.
If you believe, as Ed does, that the government’s role is to guarantee equality of opportunity for all, then we have a moral duty to work hard to ensure that all children have access to an excellent public school.