The National School Boards Association (NSBA) working with and through state
associations and more than 90,000 school board members is committed to providing the highest quality education for every child. At a time when public schools are educating more students at a higher level than ever before in history – and doing so despite enormous financial challenges – recent statements by the Trump administration are troublesome. The profound lack of knowledge about public education, as reflected in comments about public schools being “flush with cash” and badly underserving the nation’s children, coupled with policy proposals based on these “alternative facts”, pose a threat to a high-quality education for more than 50 million students.
“Day after day, public school leaders and educators perform acts of heroism,” said Miranda Beard, NSBA President and a school board member in Laurel, Mississippi. “Rhetoric that is devoid of facts, that significantly deviates from reality, undermines the work of millions of school board members, parents, administrators and teachers.”
Public education, for hundreds of years, has helped millions of students prepare for life. It has provided students from diverse backgrounds with knowledge and skills they used to create and sustain the world’s strongest economy. The education provided by public schools has instilled students with the ability to think creatively so they could solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.
“Public schools are the backbone of our country,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director and CEO. “Public education has played a significant part in lifting generations of people from lower to middle income, and from middle to higher income. And, public schools have enormous potential to elevate even more children and their families out of poverty. Public education in America is a birthright, but its existence depends on the active support of leaders at all levels, which is why recent baseless charges are so troubling.”
Some of public education’s key accomplishments include:
- Graduation rates that are at their all-time highest level
- More students going to college than at any time in history
- Career and technical education that has been modernized
- Math performance increases at a higher than ever level
- Reading performance increases among English language learners
- Upgraded data systems to help teachers teach and students learn
These achievements and many more have been realized as budgets for public education have not fully recovered since experiencing significant reductions during the Great Recession.
Adequately funded, student-centered public schools provide a safe and supportive environment, a comprehensive education that prepares all children for a lifetime of learning in a diverse, democratic society. However, budget cuts and proposals such as vouchers and other programs that divert essential funding from schools, along with federal government overreach, denigrates the amazing work taking place in what is arguably our most valuable institution.
“This is a pivotal time in public education and our nation’s school children deserve the best education possible,” said Gentzel. “We must and we can enhance public education by working together to find and implement the best ideas to accomplish this.”
Views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the endorsement of the Learning First Alliance or any of its members.