Condi Urges Education Reform. Could It Really Create Jobs?

BlogHer Original Post

How do you connect education with job creation?

The panel's answer was in concrete acts that encourage new ways to create jobs and support job seekers. Among them: The Rockefeller Foundation will give $1,000,000 to the organization with the most innovative solution to create jobs for "disconnected young people." The Huffington Post launched an Opportunities: What Is Working channel, while the Ford Foundation is putting $150 million on closing the skills gap. (You can see all the commitments here).

What should the government's role be?

Yesterday's panel focused mostly on ideas, rather than specific policy -- stressing the need for public-private partnerships. Some panelists, of course, favored more government investment than others. But again, of course, education reform of any sort will require the government's involvement.

Gov. Kasich spoke of what he's done in Ohio, including reforming education policy with a bill that included a reading guarantee for third-graders who haven't yet acquired reading skills -- the same bill introduced "blended learning," a way to bring online teaching to elementary schools, and centralized the administration of workforce programs (it also include some more core Republican measures like teacher performance and school report cards, but Kasich didn't speak to those yesterday.)

When he spoke Tuesday night, Gov. Kasich spoke with pride of steering Ohio from 48th in job creation to fourth and creating 122,000 jobs by setting priorities. I wish he had mentioned education as one of them, because he definitely believes in it.

The single time I heard education mentioned on Tuesday -- the day celebrating entrepreneurship -- was by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Here's what he said.

We believe that the majority of teachers in America know our system must be reformed to put students first so that America can compete. Teachers don't teach to become rich or famous. They teach because they love children. We believe that we should honor and reward the good ones while doing what's best for our nation's future -- demanding accountability, higher standards, and the best teacher in every classroom. They believe the educational establishment will always put themselves ahead of children. That self-interest trumps common sense. They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children. They believe in teachers' unions. We believe in teachers.

So -- why isn't education central to the economy talk on the convention floor? I don't expect much policy talk amid the woo-woo of a nominating convention. But I do hope to hear about these ideas, at least at the level of ideas. We need to make education a priority, and it seems to me that creating jobs is one idea that crosses the aisle with ease.

The education plank of the party platform looks more like Christie's plan -- job training is addressed; read the platform here.

The Huffington Post's convening another panel at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week, and BlogHer will report on that, too.

What do you think? Is education reform a clear path to job creation to you? How would you do it? What are your primary concerns about education this election?

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