The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined a long list of politicians—including both Mitt Romney and President Obama—describing education as the “civil rights issue of our day” in her speech at the Republican National Convention Wednesday night.

“We need to give parents greater choice—particularly poor parents—whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools,” she said. “If we do anything else we condemn generations to joblessness and hopelessness.”

Describing the “crisis in K-12 education” as a “threat to the very fabric of who we are,” Rice spoke of the need to get great teachers into schools as well as to expect more from students. “We need to have high standards for our kids because self-esteem comes from achievement and not lax standards and false praise,” she said.

Outside of Rice’s speech, education was mentioned only peripherally during a night focused again on America’s economy. When education did come up, most speakers addressed college—its rising costs and the job prospects for its graduates.

“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring at their faded Obama posters,” Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan said.

He echoed earlier statements of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in describing the “recent college grad facing up to the painful reality that the only door open to her after four years of study and a pile of debt is her parents’.”

Michelle Voorheis, a family-business owner interviewed “backstage” at the convention, spoke of her financial worries, which were amplified by the fact that she just sent a son off to college.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) also spoke personally. “I was the first in my family to graduate from college,” she said. “So I know how important that is to the American dream.”

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Sarah Butrymowicz oversees and contributes to The Hechinger Report’s investigative and data work covering all levels of education, from early childhood to K-12 to higher education. She has worked at...

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *