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To best educate the next generation, empower people in local communities

REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer
I believe that the greatest advantage we can ever give the next generation is a good education.

To ensure our nation walks the path of success, we must look ahead to the next generation. The children of this country are our future, which is why we must do everything in our power to give them the advantage they will need to guarantee their success.

Rep. Tom Emmer

I believe that the greatest advantage we can ever give the next generation is a good education. Unfortunately, the education system in this nation has its fair share of problems. While the strength of this nation is the diversity of its people, our diversity is not always reflected in our education system and too many children have fallen through the cracks as a result. 

That is why, last year, I voted in favor of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which gives control over our education system back to the states and local communities. This important legislation allows parents – not the government – to determine what type of school best suits their child’s needs.

We need to applaud innovative alternatives

Minnesota created the first charter school in the United States. We need to applaud this type of innovation, not stifle it. Thankfully, the ESSA encourages the development of alternative schools such as charter and magnet. Most importantly, the ESSA expressly prohibits the federal government from punishing states for opting out of Common Core. 

The passage of this major education policy reform is a step in the right direction, but our efforts must go beyond high school. Much like the many education options we hope to promote among our children’s primary and secondary education, I believe we should strive to promote that same variety after high school as well.  

Not everyone in the United States will attend a four-year university – nor should they. In order to maintain a strong and competitive workforce, we must promote higher education in all forms, ranging from the four-year university to community college to technical college and vocational training.

This is why I also supported the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which passed the House this year. This legislation strengthens career and technical education programs that train students for their future careers, especially in industries important to Minnesota like health care and manufacturing. Additionally, it supports new learning techniques and neighborhood partnerships that target existing and emerging employment fields that already have unfilled job vacancies.

Affordable options create ‘job-ready’ grads

During my time in Congress, I have made it a point to visit various educational institutions around Minnesota and throughout the 6th District to learn more about what is available to our students. Just a few weeks ago, I toured Anoka Ramsey Community College and Anoka Technical College; both are impressive – not just because of the affordable and real-life curriculum they offer, but because of their commitment to have their students “job ready” for the marketplace. In fact, many of their students are actually hired before they finish school; now that’s a return on investment! Of course, that is probably one of the reasons that Anoka Ramsey Community College was recently named one of the top 10 community colleges in the United States, making it a contender for the 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.

In order to build a strong workforce, remain globally competitive and ensure a successful future overall, we must diversify education and at all levels. We must get the meddling hands of the federal government and unelected federal bureaucrats out of the business of educating our kids – and, we must return the power and choices to the teachers, students and their parents so that our students can be successful once again. In conclusion, our state and local people, along with our teaching professionals and parents, know what’s best for our kids, and by empowering the local authorities we can provide the best education to give our next generation the greatest advantage for a successful and prosperous future.

Tom Emmer, a Republican, represents Minnesota’s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.


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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 11/05/2016 - 01:08 pm.

    What actually happens with purely local control?

    Why did the federal government get involved in public education? Because local communities used education to reinforce the local social mores and class structure. First, local communities where racial segregation was practiced, minority students were placed in grossly inferior to hold them back. Equal opportunity was not valued. Also, schools prepared girls to take subservient roles as wives and mothers, deemphasizing opportunities for them to excel as scholars and community leaders. When it came to students from poor families and individuals with physical, mental and learning disabilities, it was assumed that they didn’t merit the same attention as others. That they were unsuccessful and too often dropped out was simply accepted as is. And then there were parents who thought their views on the suitability of certain subjects or books should determine the education of all students, which lead to ideology and false narratives presented as fact.

    Education should not play favorites, and without common learning methods and standards, it does. Emmer seems to suggest there is little local control in schools. If you observe actual schools, how teachers teach and students learn, that isn’t true. Obviously life is about learning to do things better, So if a federal mandate is ineffective change it, but don’t pretend that making schools better is simply substituting one grand idea or another.

    Those who are deeply involved in education, local, state or federal do not need poorly informed elected officials who are more interested in the politics of education than its outcomes telling them what to do. Emmer is an establishment Washington insider trying to impose his ideology on those who don’t agree. Just like Trump not being smarter than our generals, he presumes much in thinking he can impose his ideology on educators.

  2. Submitted by Joe Smith on 11/07/2016 - 08:33 am.

    Joel, the current system is not working!

    The United States was number 1 in education prior to Dept off Education now we are 35th in world wide education. There used to be a huge emphasis on reading, writing, math and problem solving. There was industrial arts classes for those who’s path was not college. I went to school through 60’s and I never once saw a teacher even hint that a girl student should be subservient in any way. You can cherry pick some segregation in public schools from that time but to paint the whole system as corrupt is total talking points. If it has improved so much under DC control please tell me why the “poor families” of MPSD are stuck in a system where 64% of 9th grade students are not at their grade level in either math or reading?

    The current DC run system is not working and different ideas need to be examined not vilified with liberal talking points!!

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 11/07/2016 - 09:08 am.

      Perhaps you should consider that shortly after the Department of Education was begun, the process of “drowning government in a bathtub”, “government is the enemy” and generalized defunding of local education begun and still continues:


      At least 31 states provided less state funding per student in the 2014 school year (that is, the school year ending in 2014) than in the 2008 school year, before the recession took hold. In at least 15 states, the cuts exceeded 10 percent.

      In at least 18 states, local government funding per student fell over the same period. In at least 27 states, local funding rose, but those increases rarely made up for cuts in state support. Total local funding nationally ― for the states where comparable data exist ― declined between 2008 and 2014, adding to the damage from state funding cuts.

      While data on total school funding in the current school year (2016) is not yet available, at least 25 states are still providing less “general” or “formula” funding ― the primary form of state funding for schools ― per student than in 2008. In seven states, the cuts exceed 10 percent.

      Most states raised “general” funding per student slightly this year, but 12 states imposed new cuts, even as the national economy continues to improve. Some of these states, including Oklahoma, Arizona, and Wisconsin, already were among the deepest-cutting states since the recession hit.

      (end quote)

      And then, I want you to try to consider the irony of the fractured locality-based US system (as much as you may want to not believe it, it is very fractured into local designs) competing with the highly structured national systems of the other countries he so much admires. See any problems there ?

  3. Submitted by Matt Haas on 11/07/2016 - 10:24 am.


    Last I checked, the goal of education was to produce high functioning, critically thinking, useful citizens for society. If employers desire the school system to provide their job training, let them pay for it. What folks like Mr. Smith forget is that during the rose tinted time of the past employers actually PAID people to learn on the job. Sorry to break it to some folks, but readin’, writin’ and rithmetic’ won’t carry one too far in today’s world, and specialized training, the kind demanded for even entry level “good” jobs doesn’t come cheap, local control or not.

  4. Submitted by Joe Smith on 11/08/2016 - 05:50 am.

    I know one thing for certain,

    if you can not read, write or do math you are NOT employable… That is pretty simple.. Our public education is for preparing 19 year old young men and women to have skills to go to college, get a job or go to trade school… Once they leave our public school and no longer bring a price tag for a school district, how much does our beloved Dept of Education care about them? No much!!

    Money is not an issue but the liberals have one arrow in their quiver, throw more money at it! That doesn’t work, if it did the 20 plus Trillion we threw at the War on Poverty would have shown results…. It didn’t.

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