Keep Education a Priority!

12/15/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Marc Lampkin Executive Director of Strong American Schools

Nicholas Kristof writes an alarming piece in today's New York Times, claiming that President-elect Barack Obama may be putting education on the "backburner."

That would be a mistake.

The need for improving our education system has never been greater. The rest of the world is catching up with us competitively, threatening our economic and national security. This problem may be exacerbated in the future, because, as Kristof tells us, "the United States is the only country in the industrialized world where children are less likely to graduate from high school than their parents were, according to a new study by the Education Trust."

Given these uncertain economic times, we know the best guarantee of success for our young people is to graduate from a school that has challenged and brought the best out of them. And we know that can't happen without high standards and quality teachers in every classroom -- which won't happen unless President-elect Obama makes education a priority for his Administration. We've had two years of "talking the talk" in the campaign; now is the time to walk the talk on education reform.

As Kristof notes, "No family underscores the power of education more than Mr. Obama's. His father began as a goat-herd in a remote village in Kenya, but his studies carried him to the University of Hawaii. And Mr. Obama himself has ridden the education escalator to the White House."

President-elect Obama understands the importance of excelling in education; it is a crucial part of his life story. We owe this and future generations of students the opportunity to rise on the same escalator, as well. Anything short of guaranteeing quality teachers in every classroom, along with meaningful standards and accountability further risks our standing in the world to those nations who do make education a priority.