When Marylanders cast their ballots on Election Day, they said "yes, you can" to same-sex couples who want to get married, to young people whose families immigrated here illegally and who hope to receive in-state tuition, and to casino operators who want to expand their operations here. Now, as we move forward from this election, it's time to say "yes, you can" to another group of Marylanders who are no less deserving of affirmation: public school students from underserved communities.
KIPP has demonstrated phenomenal success in providing educational opportunities to its students. Making significant academic gains while attending KIPP, its students have exceptionally high graduation and college entrance rates. On Oklahoma's 2014-15 A-F School Report Card, KIPP scored a grade of A+ and a rating of 99. KIPP's performance record has been recognized by its selection as a 2012 National Blue Ribbon School, as one of the 50 Best Middle Schools in the U.S. in 2014 and as one of the top four Oklahoma middle schools in 2014.
As CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, and later as the U.S. Secretary of Education, I had the good fortune to visit dozens of gap-closing charter schools. I always came away from those visits - as I do when I visit any great public school - with both a sense of hope and a profound feeling of respect and gratitude for the school's educators and school leaders.
Now that the election is over, it's time to look forward to January 2013. That's when the Tennessee General Assembly will convene to start putting into effect the ideas and solutions that were brought up before Election Day.
As Gov. Pat McCrory begins his first term, I hope he will fulfill his election night promise to "bring this state together." One critical way he can do this - and at the same time improve the long-term health of our state - is by focusing on public education.
For decades, educators and elected officials in North Carolina have been grappling with the most effective ways to improve the quality of public education. Now, a new international study of science and mathematics achievement is showing us where we have succeeded, and where we can go from here.