Education is a crucial issue, and one that ties into the broader economy, because children who are poorly educated are not given the opportunity to succeed as adults. There are significant achievement gaps in our urban and rural school systems that disproportionately impact poor and minority communities. There have been many proposed solutions on either side of the aisle, some with great consensus and others met with strong opposition.
A current hot topic in education is national standards set for the entire country. Some consider national standards as a detriment to learning and setting America up for mediocrity and believe that the states should be responsible for setting their own competitive standards. Proponents of national standards believe it sets a level playing field and makes it easier for students who move state to state to be on the same page educationally.
The consensus in Washington, DC over the past ten years has been the support of charter schools. Many Republicans and Democrats believe school choice through charters provide opportunity to economically depressed areas of the country. While there is a general consensus, some Republicans who support charter schools believe that education should be dealt with and funded at the state level. There is also dissent on charters among Democrats. Some Democrats believe that charter schools are the privatization of education and that only the government should be in charge of education.
Other policy solutions discussed at both the federal and state levels are vouchers for low-income students, educational savings accounts, and parents trigger laws. Vouchers (currently implemented in Washington DC Public Schools) give low-income students an allotted amount of money to attend a private school of their choice for chance to get out of their current failing assigned school. Education savings accounts have been implemented in many states like Indiana, Arizona, and most recently, Nevada. These accounts are given to each student and typically hold the amount of money spent per pupil. Parents are given autonomy on how they use the money, whether for homeschooling (funding limited), private, charter, or even their assigned district school. Lastly, is the parent trigger law. Inspired by education reform advocate and former DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, the law allows parents whose children are in a failing school to sign petitions to flip that school into a charter school. By having parents trigger the change, there is greater autonomy given and greater parent input in how the school is run.