Oliver: Bucking Status Quo Critical to Education Innovation

The following is the third in a week-long series of blogs in support of National School Choice Week (Jan. 26 – Feb. 1) from some of Indiana’s leading figures in this ongoing educational effort. This is authored by Dr. Brad Oliver, associate dean of education at Indiana Wesleyan University and a member of the Indiana State Board of Education.

As our country celebrates National School Choice Week, it is important to reflect on the progress Indiana has made to create choice opportunities for Hoosier families. This year, over 20,000 children in Indiana are attending a high quality public, public charter or private school of their choosing.

Indiana’s progress has not been without challenges from those who would seek to preserve a status quo culture in schools over allowing students access to alternative choices for securing a high quality education. Preserving the status quo is not a “winning” strategy for ensuring the long-term prosperity of our students or our state.

So what should be the underlying assumptions behind Indiana’s education policies intended to result in widespread Hoosier prosperity?

  1. Hoosier families should always have the right to decide which school best meets their child’s needs. Parents and guardians make numerous decisions with respect to a child’s welfare and development from birth to adulthood. Given the correlation between a child’s education experience and their future prosperity as an adult, education policy in Indiana must expand current choice and access to innovative, high quality systems of education.
  2. Education innovation is crucial to prosperity and is never achieved by preserving the status quo. Perhaps the greatest outgrowth of education reforms in Indiana are the current conversations to find innovative solutions for ensuring Indiana graduates are college and career ready. Innovation is never the outgrowth of status quo education paradigms, but rather the natural byproduct of competitive excellence. As Indiana seeks to reduce the number of college students requiring freshman remediation and develops seamless transitions for high school graduates to enter high skill, high wage jobs, Indiana’s education reform policies will continue to serve as a catalyst for new, innovative solutions in education.
  3. Participating in responsible, constructive dialogue about education is always the best avenue for serving Hoosier students. In a world dominated by social media and instant access to news and journalistic analysis of public policy, Hoosiers must agree to be intentional in finding appropriate avenues for public discourse on education. Education policy promulgated from adult-centered agendas are polarizing and unhelpful, but education policy developed from bipartisan, student-centered conversations offer the greatest potential to finding long-term education solutions that work.

Indiana’s progress to offer Hoosier families school choice, and the emerging innovative educational solutions that come from competitive excellence, are indeed reasons to celebrate in our state. We should remain resolved to not pass on status quo educational systems of learning to the next generation, but commit to the critical conversations that result in discovering new and alternative education paradigms that contribute to widespread Hoosier prosperity.