Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s major speech in Cleveland this week focused on combating poverty through community-based efforts rather than governmental programs. It also touched on he and Mitt Romney’s plans for expanded school choice. Here are the prepared remarks in full. Here are the excerpts that addressed education reform.
Even though so many barriers to equality have fallen, too many old inequities persist. Too many children, especially African-American and Hispanic children, are sent into mediocre schools and expected to perform with excellence. African-American and Hispanic children make up only 38 percent of the nation’s overall students, but they are 69 percent of the students in schools identified as lowest performing.
That’s unacceptable. We owe every child a chance to succeed. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, we owe them “an unfettered start and a fair chance in the race of life.” Upward mobility is the central promise of life in America. But right now, America’s engines of upward mobility aren’t working the way they should.
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But strengthening these safety net programs is still not enough. If we want to restore the promise of America, then we must reform our broken public-school system.
The special interests that dominate this system always seem to have their own futures lined up pretty nicely. But when you think about the future of the young adults that the system has failed, many will face a lot of grief and disappointment – and their country owes them better than that.
I recently spent some time at the Cornerstone School, an independent school in Detroit that has served urban students for twenty years. Cornerstone is an amazing place – you can feel a culture of responsibility and achievement all around you.
While I was there, I got to talking with a tenth-grader named Alexis. She is already reading economics books I didn’t encounter until college. But more importantly, she and her classmates are learning the values of discipline, accountability, respect, service, and love for one another.
When you set aside all the obstacles to education reform, you are left with one obvious fact: Every child in America should have this kind of opportunity. Sending your child to a great school should not be a privilege of the well-to-do. Mitt Romney and I believe that choice should be available to every parent in our country, wherever they live. Education reform is urgent, and freedom is the key.