Latest Ripon Forum Looks at the Next Steps in Education Reform

by | Feb 16, 2016 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

With essays by scholars Frederick Hess & Richard Kahlenberg, Senator Tim Scott, and Jobs for America’s Graduates CEO Ken Smith
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Abraham Lincoln once called education the “most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.”

In recent years, education has also been a subject that has fallen victim to partisan gridlock and political dysfunction. The recent enactment of a plan to rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act was a victory over this dysfunction.

Called the Every Student Succeeds Act, the plan was also a victory for Republicans because of the reforms that were approved.  The latest edition of The Ripon Forum looks at these reforms with an essay by respected education expert Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute.

In his essay, Hess not only highlights some of the key components of the bill, but also points out that the measure, while a “conservative triumph,” represents “no more than three quarters of the loaf.” To that end, Hess lays out five areas where additional reform is needed and Congress should consider taking action in the coming year.

Also writing on the subject of education reform is Richard Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation. Called “the intellectual father of the economic integration movement,” Kahlenberg’s focus is on a troubling fact about America’s educational system – namely, the fact that over half of public school students attend schools where a majority of their classmates qualify as poor or low income under federal guidelines.

“The flight of wealthy students from public to private schools is at once a constitutional right of families and a cause for unease,” Kahlenberg writes, adding that, “Public schools that have a healthy blend of middle class and lower-income students provide much stronger opportunities for all students.” To help achieve this goal, he points to an approach that was adopted in Cambridge, Massachusetts and that any Republican can support – turn every public school into a magnet school and give parents a choice of where they send their kids.

As Ken Smith notes in another essay for this edition, the challenges facing America’s students cannot be addressed by government alone. Smith is the President of Jobs for America’s Graduates, a state-based national non-profit organization that, in its 35-year history, has not only helped increase graduation rates, but has helped find jobs for more than one million at-risk and disadvantaged young men and women around the United States. “Consistent, sustained success is best achieved with the fully engaged support of both the public and private sectors,” Smith writes.

Another way of lifting people out of poverty, argues U.S. Sen. Tim Scott in another op-ed, is by expanding the educational pathways they can take. “Apprenticeships are a proven way to help people develop in-demand skills and to meet the needs of employers,” the South Carolina Senator writes. “Whether you are a 22-year-old living in poverty and looking for a way to improve your skillset, a 45-year-old looking to change careers, or a high school student who does not necessarily want to get a four year degree, the ability to be able to provide for yourself and your family while improving your future earning potential is invaluable.”

In addition to looking at the next steps in education reform, this latest edition of the Forum also features:
  • Combat veteran and Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, writing about the need for the United States to confront and defeat radical Islam, which he calls “The Challenge of Our Time;”
  • Miami University Professors Ben Toll and Bryan C. Marshall writing about the importance of Ohio in presidential elections, and why the Buckeye State will be both a battleground and bellwether this year.
  • Pulitzer Prize winning author Edward J. Larson writing about the Farewell Address of George Washington and the lessons it holds for today.
  • Strategists Ed Goeas and Brian Nienaber writing about The Ripon Society’s recent national survey examining America’s middle class.

In addition, this edition of the Forum also features a profile of New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who shares her thoughts on such topics as the issue facing America no one is talking about and the federal agency most in need of reform.

 The Ripon Forum is published by The Ripon Society, a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, isconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

For more information on The Ripon Society, please visit