From Bob Schaffer
Where I Stand:
On public education
Education is America’s top civic priority. A well-educated citizenry is absolutely necessary to maintain the Republic. The reason I have been such a strong and consistent supporter of public education is because I believe it is Colorado’s primary obligation to assist parents in the transmission of knowledge, values and skills to their children in the most direct and effective way possible.
All children matter. All children can learn. In Colorado, all children have a right to a free, high-quality education in a safe learning environment. Children should enjoy the liberty to learn in academic settings earning their parents’ highest confidence and approval.
Teachers should be treated like real professionals. They should be paid on a professional basis. They should enjoy the freedom to teach according to their best professional judgment. The common practice of paying the best teacher in a district the same as the worst is antithetical to the professional educator. Colorado’s teachers are commonly underpaid as a matter of local public policy. The best teaching professionals should be afforded an opportunity to earn incomes on the order of other true professionals – lawyers, doctors, athletes, etc.
It is the responsibility of parents to educate their children. It is the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. In this regard, the judgment of parents should never be ignored, second guessed or questioned by government agents, except in the case of abuse or neglect.
Funding should be child-centered. Fairness in the allocation of public resources for education should be measured by the relationship between individual students, not the relationship between jurisdictions, districts, buildings or administrative units.
Colorado’s schools should be the best, most competitive schools in the world. Measuring quality, through objective, verifiable performance data is useful and of supreme importance. The satisfaction of parents according to their individual expectations for professional academic services delivered to their children constitutes the highest standard of quality.
Colorado’s public schools are unduly constrained by mandates, non-academic rules, unreasonable legal exposure and antique habits. Every aspect of Colorado’s education bureaucracy must be routinely critically evaluated for its value. Much can be abolished in the interest of local control and the efficiency of a freer marketplace.
Colorado’s standardized testing regimen should be based upon ambitious state content standards designed to achieve mature literacy in all relevant subjects. CSAP tests should be free of bias and firmly rooted in content standards. CSAP tests are not, and were never intended to be the full measure of education quality. The tool is one of many important sets of objective, verifiable data points which give parents and policymakers a clearer sense of total quality.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act is a massive federal intrusion into the proper Constitutional role of states to provide public education for their citizens. The core objectives of NCLB are not unreasonable however inconsistent with America’s tradition of federalism. Colorado should push federal legislators to amend NCLB in ways that support our state-derived education goals and provide maximum flexibility to local education leaders.
On the CDE
The Colorado Department of Education exists to implement the education policies established by the Colorado State Legislature. The Department and the State Board of Education should avoid impulses to make new law and defer to all clearly stated intentions and manifestations of legislative prerogative. The agency must also focus its work on helping school districts succeed and fostering a more healthy competitive education environment throughout the state.
On education leadership
Colorado enjoys an abundance of talent, expertise, opinions and leadership traditions associated with public education. Decisions must always be made in a respectful, cooperative, open and fair way. I have always succeeded in public leadership by considering all viewpoints, working toward common objectives and shunning partisanship. Especially on the State Board of Education, this kind of approach is the obvious best approach to exerting leadership in the solemn duty of serving Colorado children and their families.
On the future of education
Education is the most important issue facing the state and nation. Our goal should be to have the best education opportunities in the country – and in the world. Some say that’s an unrealistic goal. Those are usually people who don’t have kids and grandkids of their own.