In a few days, voters will make a pilgrimage to their local school, firehouse or library, take up their civic duty and pull a lever (or hang a chad) for their candidates of choice, determining the directional future of the country for the next four years.
More importantly, though less often realized, the winners of 37 races for governor this year will determine the educational future of millions of students in their states.
Yet even as voters consistently place education among their top concerns in national polls, an evaluation of gubernatorial candidates reveals that far too many of them remain vague or non-committal when it comes to supporting proven, non-partisan (but impactful) programs that serve to improve student achievement for all children.
Strong charter school laws, meaningful school choices and performance pay for teachers are three areas where governors and legislatures can effectively improve the academic operations and outputs of their states, their communities and their schools. In contests throughout the country, it is a candidate’s support for education reform that separates them from their opponent, and this support should be made clear so that voters make the most informed choice possible on November 2.
Gubernatorial candidates across parties have used the rhetoric of reform while remaining fuzzy on whether they will fight — even with the education establishment — to get real reforms enacted into law. Most running for the governor’s mansion seem to believe that they can be “a little pregnant” with reform, when evidence suggests that you either are or are not.
We’ve seen time and time again, when governors embrace education reform, great things happen. All governors, not just a few, must be dedicated to fundamentally reforming America’s schools, because the education of our country is only as strong as its weakest link.
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