We believe education is the great equalizer, and that it always has been. It’s also the gateway to the American Dream. It would be folly to assume that our schools are all operating at their best. We know that is not true. So we need to begin by strengthening our public schools, and not abandoning them through a top-down voucher program.
We think strength comes through standards and accountability, and we take note that — when parents are surveyed and asked how they feel about testing — Latino parents consistently tell pollsters than they want schools to do more testing, not less. They want to know exactly how well their kids are doing. They’re not afraid to hold both their children and the schools accountable until they improve student performance. It’s no surprise that accountability measures such as the “No Child Left Behind” law had the support of major Latino civil rights organizations such as the National Council of La Raza. They have our support as well.
While we cannot abandon our public schools, we also cannot abandon disadvantaged students attending underperforming schools. Therefore, we support targeted opportunity scholarships limited to disadvantaged students in failing schools.
We also back merit pay for teachers, the overhaul of teacher tenure laws, and other efforts at the state and federal level to link teacher compensation with student performance. We recognize that great things are possible in America’s classrooms when students, teachers and parents all come together toward a common purpose.
We know that, where Latinos are concerned, the soft bigotry of low expectations often gets in the way of students’ performance, and so we support measures to raise expectations to make sure all students are given the same educational opportunities regardless of ethnicity or economic status.