Give charter schools a chance

Despite efforts by both parties to paint President Obama and Governor Romney as opposites, there is at least one policy area they agree on — the need to bolster our education system and expand the use of charter schools.

Teachers unions and their allies object to this concept, arguing that expanding student choice takes money away from (and thus weakens) traditional public schools. Opponents also question whether charter schools have the capacity to outperform their traditional counterparts. By examining Ohio’s charter school experience, we’re able to compare the performance of charter schools relative to their public counterparts.


Congress must help more foreign-born STEM graduates stay in US

No one says that the U.S. doesn’t produce enough lawyers. Today, almost 150,000 students are attending U.S. law schools. Almost all of them are Americans, and barely more than half will find jobs in their field here. Their supply exceeds our economy’s current demand. But the exact opposite is true for students of science, math, engineering, and technology (STEM).

This year, 40,000 computer science graduates will find 120,000 new and unfilled jobs waiting for them. Worse, many of those students are foreign born and barred by our current immigration policy from using their talents to meet this demand to help grow the U.S. economy. Consider that by 2009, according to the National Science Foundation, a full half of those graduating with a doctorate in computer science were foreign-born students here on a temporary visa. Although we clearly have an economic need for these graduates, and they’ve been educated here in the United States, we are currently sending these inventors and job creators home to compete with us in the global marketplace.


Fisher v. Texas is not about quotas, It's about the economy

Members of Congress and advocates on the Hill should take notice of a case being heard today at the Supreme Court. Fisher v. Texas has gotten much attention as “the affirmative action case;” however, the outcome of the case may also have ramifications on the country’s economic future. For this reason, Fortune 100 companies, small business organizations, military leaders and the Brennan Center for Justice have filed amicus briefs asking the Court to uphold its longstanding precedent.

As lawmakers search for ways to boost our economic growth – by trying to create a bipartisan deficit reduction plan and figuring out how to create jobs – they should also keep in mind policies that affect our human capital – our largest economic asset.

Fisher considers a challenge to the admission policy of the University of Texas at Austin. That policy seeks to create a diverse student body, and therefore a diverse workforce. Diversity spurs innovation. When people from different backgrounds and those with different viewpoints come together to exchange ideas and knowledge, it produces new ideas and new knowledge. It creates intellectual and business leaders. In an increasingly competitive world, the United States’ singular advantage is our ability to create, not imitate. As the Fortune 100’s brief notes, inclusive admissions are a “business and economic imperative.”


In Fisher v. Texas, Supreme Court should rule in favor of Texas

As high school seniors across the nation get ready for Homecoming, today the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments that could determine what kinds of experiences they will be exposed to in college next year. The Court will hear Fisher v. Texas  and decide whether the University of Texas -- and, by extension, all institutions of higher learning -- can consider the race of a student as one factor among many in a holistic review of a student applicant. The Supreme Court has already endorsed, as constitutional, an admissions policy very similar to that used by Texas a half-dozen times over the last half century, and, most recently, nine years ago in Grutter v. Bollinger. Yet, despite having this matter settled many times previously, we are somehow again debating the importance that quality and diversity play in our nation’s colleges and universities.


Fisher v. Texas: It's wrong to curb diversity

When I started school in Virginia in 1968, the public schools in my county were still segregated by race. When our school board finally began complying with Brown vs. Board of Education, a group of parents decided to start an all-white private school. They showed up in our driveway one evening to convince my parents to join them. My father — a white factory worker and a son of the brutally segregated South — sent them away unhappy. Years later I asked him what he'd told them. "I told them you and your sister had to learn to live in the world," he said. "And I told them the world wasn't going to be all white."

On October 10, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Fisher v. Texas. At stake is the freedom of a public university to fulfill its educational mission by selecting a diverse student body. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Texas to preserve our own ability to achieve our mission — and ultimately, the ability of public universities nationwide to prepare their students for lives in a world that is increasingly more diverse.


'Let's Move' law is flawed. 'No Hungry Kids Act' will fix it

Starting a new school year is typically filled with excitement and many changes, but this year kids and parents across our nation are dealing with big surprises in the lunch room. Thanks to new calorie bracket regulations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children are going hungry in our school cafeterias. The background of the rule and the outcry from parents and children has led to our legislative response, the "No Hungry Kids Act."
The new "calorie maximums" are broken down in three categories: grades K-5, grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. Last year the federal government recommended a lunch of a minimum 785 calories for a sixth grader; this year, that same sixth-grade student will be fed a maximum of 700 calories.


School lunches should be filled with nutrition, not red tape

Have you ever wondered how school administrators decide what goes into school lunches? As is the case with most federally-run programs, there’s a thick stack of instruction papers for that. On the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) webpage for the Food and Nutrition Services Department, you can find a copy of the 81-page rule that sets nutrition standards. According to the School Nutrition Association’s (SNA) analysis and explanation of the latest rule for school lunch nutrition standards, the maximum number of calories a student in grades K-5 can have at lunch is 650. This is the first time in history the USDA has set a calorie cap on students.


Debacle in Chicago

The Chicago teachers’ strike is turning into an all-round debacle – for school children and their families, for President Obama and his party, and quite likely for the teachers themselves. Only Republicans are smiling, as the strike supplies fresh fodder to their campaign to vilify and weaken public sector unions.


Literacy is the keystone in the arch of an education

"Hwat wdulo hte lrodw kolo lkei fi ouy ocldu otn erda?"

To 793 million people, the confusion you just experienced deciphering the above is a regular part of everyday life. For those that cannot read or write, a local newspaper, medicine bottles, street signs and food packaging, all present a struggle that inspires fear, frustration and social immobility.

Illiteracy is not just a problem of the developing world; it is prevalent across the United States. Here in the District of Columbia, where students recently began the new school year, reading levels for elementary students remain well below average – with 56 percent of the District’s fourth graders failing to achieve basic reading levels, according to the 2011 nation’s report card. And it is estimated that nearly 36 percent of District adults are functionally illiterate. This is untenable.


Economic downturn spotlights college advantage

The Great Recession that began in December 2007 hit America hard and exposed many of the shortcomings of our nation’s workforce. Now, a new study from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, co-funded by Lumina Foundation, shows undereducated workers are increasingly being left behind and that policymakers, employers and institutions must do more to produce the skilled talent our nation needs to compete more effectively in the global economy.