Putting Education First

September 15, 2008 1 min read

Senators John McCain and Barack Obama need to bring education to the forefront of their campaigns, according to Aleta Margolis, executive director for the Center for Inspired Teaching. Margolis, whose center provides professional development for educators, aired her editorial Monday morning on NPR’s Washington, D.C. affiliate, WAMU.

Margolis offers what change would look like when students are held to a higher standard: Yes, they will do well on standardized tests, but they will also be “prepared to engage fully in civic life.” Margolis wants 21st century skills folded into the classroom. Students should be able to “think critically, demonstrate understanding, solve complex problems, and apply their learning” to today’s challenges, she explains.

How can this happen? Margolis proposes creating a new role for teachers where they “spend more time asking students to stretch and search for information and less time spoon-feeding them the answers.” Assessing teachers on the impact of their instruction--whether their students are able to engage in critical thinking to make well-informed decisions--should be the yardstick for measuring their professional health, not credentials and test scores. “It’s time to redefine the role of the teacher from deliverer to facts to developer of future citizens in our democracy,” says Margolis. This, she charges, is what the presidential candidates should be talking about when they’re talking about education.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.