“Though there are a few exceptions, American public schools are generally producing fewer students with the skills they need for long-term success,” said USCCF in a statement. “According to the OECD, proficiency in fundamental disciplines is slipping. Among the 34 leading industrialized countries, the United States ranks 14th in reading literacy, 17th in science, and 25th in math.”

“Our country continues to fall further behind other developed nations when it comes to educating our kids, which is a losing proposition for students and the economy,” said Cheryl Oldham, vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber. “Ensuring that students are college- and career-ready when leaving high school will save the nation billions of dollars in remediation costs and supply American businesses with the talent necessary to compete globally.”

USCCF also released Profiles of Change, a video campaign featuring education reform leaders telling the stories of how they “pushed for change in the education system in their communities.”

The videos highlighted in the campaign focus on increasingly popular yet controversial reform measures, such as school choice, encouraging charter schools, and the expansion of the Teach for America program.

“The Profiles of Change videos show the public that there are people in their communities who are working tirelessly for kids,” said Oldham. “We hope that these videos will inspire more individuals to get engaged and become change-makers in their schools.”

The first video features former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush discussing the major modifications he implemented in Florida schools that “challenged the status quo in his state.”

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Not surprisingly, the USCCF’s campaign has generated criticism from some educators.

Research from the federal Education Department suggests that U.S. charter schools perform no better, on average, than traditional public schools. And critics argue that the movement to expand the choices available to parents ends up hurting the most disadvantaged students.

Should schools be run like businesses?

Seth Rosenblatt, a school board member in San Carlos, Calif., who also serves on the board of the San Mateo County School Boards Association and is a strategy and marketing consultant for technology companies, said USCCF’s guide is extremely naïve in its suggestions.

“Every school board is different, because all schools are different. It’s a national guide, so I understand it has to be generalized, but public schools are entities of states, not government, so they vary incredibly,” said Rosenblatt.

(Next page: Why education is not like business)

Meris Stansbury

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