What we need the most is a comprehensive reform of public education that is attentive to raising the ceiling but that does not accomplish this worthy goal by making it even more likely that we will leave many a child behind.
It is not that I don't think education is a subject worthy of national debate -- it is a critical issue in our society -- but it has been so botched by our two major political parties that I cringe every time education is mentioned in a political speech or debate.
The battle in the Windy City is essentially about one thing: education for the best of us and then for the rest of us. This isn't just a clever phrase, however. There are drastic inequalities between the best and the rest.
If the primary goal of school is "educate and prepare tomorrow's leaders," then teachers, school boards, policymakers, and others need to recognize the extent to which education has a new target audience: older adults.
America's schools aren't doing nearly well enough, especially for our neediest children. We need accountability systems that create urgency and push for significant gains every year. Ideological arguments and utopian objectives don't help.
For all the functional objects schools might request, the most crucial tools for your child are not physically tangible all, but rather values that will influence every moment of the school day -- and not only for them.