UPDATE: This afternoon, President-elect Trump announced his pick for Secretary of Education – Betsy DeVos, who has been a dedicated advocate of school choice in her home state of Michigan. Better luck next time, Colorado.
According to a recent release by the Lexington Institute, former U.S. Congressman and education innovator Bob Schaffer is in the mix for Secretary of Education. If we actually need to have a Department of Education, Schaffer is certainly the right man for the job.
The son of public school teachers, Schaffer returned from Congress (after holding himself to serving the three terms that he pledged), to start one of the most successful charter schools in the country, and set the conditions for a first-class, robust school choice infrastructure in Colorado.
By bringing market-based solutions to struggling government schools, Schaffer’s track record of putting students and parents ahead of teachers unions has made him some enemies, but his record speaks for itself. Liberty Common High School was ranked top Colorado high school by U.S. News and World Report in 2015, and the school posted a string of years where it achieved the highest composite ACT scores of any school in the state. The year before Liberty Common’s U.S. News recognition, it broke the state’s record for composite ACT score, with 28.63 out of a possible 36. The prior record holder was another public charter school, the Vanguard School of Colorado Springs.
Schaffer’s resume also includes two terms as Chairman of the Colorado State Board of Education and time as president of the Parental Alliance for Choice in Education. He is the long-serving chairman of Leadership Program of the Rockies.
Most government schools have been operating in crisis mode for decades, and this problem is not going to be fixed overnight. Policies such as Common Core, No Child Left Behind, and Race to the Top, all of which Schaffer was against, have brought far too much federal government interference with local public schools.
Schaffer understands the fundamental premise the parents know what works best for their children, and the best school management decisions are made at the local level – this is a rare perspective in today’s education-industrial complex. If anyone can start to reform the broken public education system in this country it’s Schaffer – his leadership, vision, and record of achievement in this area is simply unmatched. He would be an outstanding pick for Secretary of Education.