Lincoln Pushes Education Reform

Lincoln Pushes Education Reform

Washington—U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and nine fellow moderate Senate Democrats today sent a letter to President Barack Obama voicing support for his key education goals and pledging to “lend our voices to the debate as proponents of education reform.”

The letter was initiated by Lincoln and Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Tom Carper (D-DE), leaders of the Senate Moderate Dems Working Group, and signed by seven of their colleagues.

“As legislators, we believe we must embrace promising new approaches to education policy if we are to prepare our children to fill the jobs of the future,” they wrote to President Obama. “By 2016, four out of every 10 new American jobs will require at least some advanced education or training. To retain our global economic leadership, we share your sense of urgency in moving an education reform agenda through Congress.”

Saying that “now is the time to explore new paths and reject stale thinking,” the moderate Democrats commended President Obama for his focus on teacher quality and noted a recent report by McKinsey and Company that highlights the achievement gaps that persist among various economic, regional and racial backgrounds in the United States and the gaps between American students and their peers in other industrialized nations. Based on this report, the senators noted that “had the United States closed the gap in education achievement with better-performing nations like Finland, Iceland, and Poland, our GDP could have been up to $2.3 trillion higher last year.”

The senators expressed support for new pay-for-performance teacher incentives and expansions of effective public charter schools. They also endorsed the Obama administration’s desire to extend student learning time to stay globally competitive and called for investments in state-of-the-art data systems so school systems can track student performance across grades, schools, towns and teachers.

Other signatories on the letter include Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).

“Our nation must confront the growing challenges of an increasingly competitive global economy: an outdated health care system in need of reform, an energy policy requiring an overhaul, and an economy still on the road to recovery,” the 10 senators wrote. “We will not be equal to the extraordinary task before us without a public school system that offers our children the tools needed to reach their potential.”