Robert Reich on Education

Former Secretary of Labor; Democratic Challenger MA Governor

We must prepare workforce for new economy

We must enable every person in the Commonwealth to make the most of their talents and abilities. That means affordable pre-schools; K-12 schools that are held accountable for results and whose teachers are paid enough to attract talented people to the classroom; community colleges that teach skills that businesses require; and the best universities in America. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough. A third of our workforce is unprepared for the work of the future.
Source: Campaign web site, RobertReich.org , Jan 25, 2002

Community Colleges are unsung heroes of workers

Community colleges are the unsung heroes of the working middle class, and we’ve got to link them up with people who need skills.
Source: Boston Phoenix article by Seth Gitell , Jan 17, 2002

Combine knowledge (know-how) with wisdom (know-why)

Knowledge is not enough [for college graduates facing today’s job market]. You’ll also need some wisdom. Knowledge is knowing how to accomplish something. It’s called know-how. Wisdom is knowing why you should accomplish it. Know-why. Wisdom involves values, judgments about what is important or worthy for you to be doing. Wisdom involves self-knowledge. In order to make wise choices about your life’s work, you’ll need to know something of who you are,
Source: Bates College Commencement speech , Jun 4, 2001

Grant $60,000 nest egg to high school graduates

[In his book] “The Future of Success” Reich proposes a way to grant a $60,000 nest egg to high school graduates, a sort of monetary gift that can be used to invest in school, the stock market, or a spanking new sports car. Naturally, conservatives scoff at the idea. But Reich doesn’t back down. “I think that conservatives may fail to understand the importance of giving young people a stake in capitalism, to get on the upward escalator with regard to education and asset ownership,” he says.
Source: Jamie Allen, CNN.com , Mar 5, 2001

Standardized tests are too one-size-fits-all for many kids

Standardized tests are the biggest thing to have hit American education since Sputnik. Responding to the understandable demands for more “accountability,” almost every school in the land is morphing into a test-taking factory.

Uniform tests present clear goals and give students, parents and schools ways to measure progress toward meeting them. But standardized tests are monstrously unfair to many kids. We’re creating a one-size-fits-all system that needlessly brands many young people as failures, when they might thrive if offered a different education whose progress was measured differently.

In our headlong rush toward “accountability,” we seem to be veering toward two extremes-either expecting every child to pass the same test or assuming that they are uneducable, relegating them to a vocational track.

Our challenge is to find different measures of the various skills relevant to the jobs of the new economy. It’s our job not to discourage our children, but to help them find their way.

Source: The New York Times, Op-Ed, “One Education Does Not Fit All” , Jul 11, 2000

New economy skills not measured by standardized tests

Responding to demands for more “accountability,” almost every school is morphing into a test-taking factory. Paradoxically, we’re embracing standardized tests just when the new economy is eliminating standardized jobs. Given the widening array of possibilities, there’s no reason that every child must master the standard high school curriculum that has barely changed in half a century. It’s our job not to discourage our children, but to help them find their way.
Source: NY Times, news section , Jul 11, 2000

Robert Reich on School Choice

Give poor kids a choice, but not via vouchers

Q: What is your position on educational vouchers for private education?

A: I’m against vouchers for private school but in favor of backing kids from poor communities and giving them a choice of public schools. I don’t want a system that drains from public schools; they need every penny. We need to raise the educational capacity of all schools so children are not sorted any more than they already are by the areas they can afford to live. And these poor children should have choices.

Source: Al Turco, Stoneham Independent , Mar 20, 2002

Never supported vouchers, despite interpretation that way

Q: Has your position on educational vouchers for private education changed over time?

A: I respect local decisions but will make the case for why public school choice is a good thing, especially the extra money it can bring to schools. Poor kids are often trapped in schools with little resources. One way to help them bust out of this cycle is to come back with more funding and allow students to choose the schools best using these funds. And I don’t think everyone who lives in the city wants to go to school in the suburbs. Kids want good schools near their homes.

I wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal that was interpreted as supporting private school vouchers, but then I wrote another piece soon after, explaining that that was not my position.

[Stoneham Independent editor’s note: Massachusetts communities have the option of opting in or out of the public school choice pool. The local School Committees vote. Stoneham, for example, opted out.]

Source: Al Turco, Stoneham Independent , Mar 20, 2002

Poorest children should get largest vouchers

Most of the people who have been losing out don’t have an adequate education--the first prerequisite to success in the new economy. So the best investment in their future prosperity is to improve their store of “human capital.”

The risk of most school voucher proposals is that the poorest children--normally those with the biggest learning or behavioral problems--would be sorted together into the least-desirable schools. One way to avoid this would be to make the size of the voucher proportional to family need. Children from the very poorest families would have the largest and most valuable vouchers, thereby making the children sufficiently attractive for good schools to want to compete for them.

Source: The American Prospect, vol.12, no.3,“New Economy” , Feb 12, 2001

$10,000 vouchers for poor kids in private & charter schools

The only way to begin to decouple poor kids from lousy schools is to give poor kids additional resources, along with vouchers enabling them and their parents to choose how to use them. Per-pupil public expenditures now average between $6,000 & $7,000 a year. Ideally, a child from America’s poorest 20% of families would receive a voucher worth between $10,000 & $12,000. Children from families in the next quintile would receive vouchers worth between $8,000 & $10,000. The vouchers could be used at any school that meets certain minimum standards, regardless of whether the school is now dubbed “public,” “charter’’ or ‘’private.’’ (Leave aside, for now, the tricky First Amendment issue of public money for religious schools.)

What would be the likely result of such progressive vouchers? Schools already in easy geographic reach of poor kids would get an immediate infusion of billions of dollars. Wealthier suburban schools would have even greater incentive to compete for students from poor families.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Op-Ed, “Progressive Vouchers” , Sep 6, 2000

Other governors on Education: Robert Reich on other issues:
MA Gubernatorial:
Deval Patrick
MA Senatorial:
John Kerry
Scott Brown

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011