Bring more virtue, not dollars to education

The average cost of building a new school in the U.S. is about $18 million. Los Angeles recently spent nearly $600 million for a school designed to teach 4,000 students. These huge sums beg a question: Do expensive schools improve the quality of education?

A hundred years ago, a gifted educator named Booker T. Washington eloquently gave us the answer: It depends on the lessons being taught there.


School choice: 49 million students still without options

Heidi and Frank Green used to worry about their daughters while they were at school. The Clarksville, Indiana couple was concerned about bullying, cursing, large class sizes, a revolving teaching staff, and a general lack of attention for students.

Thankfully, the Greens say their lives have changed for the better as daughters Gillian and Emma are now eager to attend school. Today they are getting quality instruction at their new Catholic school thanks to a voucher program adopted in Indiana two years ago.

“School choice should be everywhere,” said Mrs. Green. “Parents should be able to decide what’s best for their kids.


Evaluation matters: How a new study changes how we think about teaching

There’s no one obvious way to measure effective teaching, and it’s a conundrum that has been facing teachers, education leaders, and policy-makers alike. But determining how to collect information and use it to meaningfully measure teachers’ performance is a necessary next step to ensuring that every student has access to excellent teachers. The newest and most comprehensive research on good instruction released Tuesday by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides unprecedented insights about effective ways to measure teaching. And as the 113th Congress determines its agenda for education, members should consider these findings as they debate the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).


A call for practical curriculum in higher education

The various hierarchal levels in a corporate business, business mergers, countless statistical formulas for probability, and of course accounting are a few of the topics covered while working on my bachelors in Business Management. Important material you might suggest. Good to know, possibly. My response to that is, “I want a refund”.  What my college overlooked in their curriculum was that little of the previous topics just mentioned held as much weight as the most significant priority in all profit-based industries, that is being able to sell. More specifically, without the ability to be successful as a salesperson in any sector of business, relatively little of the rest proves to be beneficial. Regretfully, this was never a major emphasis in my undergraduate course work, yet something learned outside of this context.


Let's talk to each other about STEM

In Washington, legislators continue to hear from executives and investors in the science-based industries including biotech, healthcare, engineering and, particularly, technology, about the need to expand the number of H-1 visas granted to foreign-born STEM workers. Foreign workers are necessary, we are told, for their businesses and the United States to stay competitive. These conversations, and the related congressional hearings, have become a standard part of the STEM conversation in Washington. The result is congressional action (and inaction) on looking at the STEM problem as a shortage that can (or cannot) be fixed through immigration reform. This addresses an immediate need but does little to develop our own national human resource.


Reforming the GED

As our economy steadily improves and we look ahead to the next four years, it’s time to turn our attention to solving the intractable problem of long-term unemployment. Reforming the General Educational Development exam – better known as the GED – is one of the most promising pathways to getting this done.


Prioritize investments in early learning

As a retired Air Force officer who served our great nation for over 35 years, I feel strongly that national security should be a primary consideration when
addressing the deficit. But strong national security is about more than aircraft, ships and tanks — it is about the men and women who operate this high-tech equipment.

Some things may have changed since my days flying missions all over the world, but three things remain certain: 1) the caliber of recruits we need to serve in our all-volunteer force is increasing; 2) young Americans’ readiness for military service has decreased; and 3) we ignore this widening gap at our peril.


Republicans renew push for anti-minority STEM bill

Just three weeks ago, minority and immigrant communities turned out in record numbers to support President Obama and other Democratic candidates.  Republicans say they got the message, and many, including the House Speaker, have since expressed their intention to reach out to minorities and reengage on comprehensive immigration reform. I sincerely welcome this changed rhetoric, but on Capitol Hill it appears to be business as usual.
On Friday, the House will again consider the Republican “STEM Jobs Act,” which would provide green cards to foreign, advanced-degree graduates of U.S. universities in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Democrats strongly support this concept. STEM graduates of U.S. universities are innovators who create new businesses and jobs and will help spur growth in the U.S. economy.


Changing face of America increases urgency for STEM immigration reform

How to put the nation’s economy on the path for growth and job creation was the central debate in this year’s election. Now that the campaign is over, the public lens remains focused on our economy; but the nation as a whole is also beginning to see a different demographic picture emerge—one that many are calling the New America. According to exit polls, the non-white share of the electorate reached 28 percent, an all-time high. And this changing face of America has prompted the president and congressional leaders to make immigration reform a top priority alongside the economy. 

Yet even with this newfound willingness of our lawmakers, comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform will be a cumbersome and lengthy process.  There is, however, an aspect to this complex puzzle on which bipartisan agreement exists and that will immediately create jobs and grow the economy: STEM immigration reform. 


Make interest on student loans deductible

Tax reform is coming fast in the nation’s capital, both Republicans and Democrats agree. The concept of lowering tax rates and eliminating tax breaks is appealing to almost everyone. But it will be hard to find consensus in the details. What deductions go and which stay? That’s where the fight will be.
All sides should lay down their arms on one set of issues: Investments that clearly benefit society and economic growth. In particular, post-secondary education should not only be spared but it should actually get a new tax break as part of an overhaul of the tax code.

The idea is simple. Interest paid on student loans should be made tax deductible.