Education Secretary DeVos' lesson is consistency

This editorial appeared in The Fayetteville Observer

Betsy DeVos saw her first school on a military post Monday, visiting Kimberly Hampton Primary School on Fort Bragg. She heard from educators, read to some children and held private discussions with parents. We hope our new U.S. secretary of education heard what they were saying, because it might not fit easily into her own vision of education and the way to foster excellence.

The school's PTA president, Jennifer Hamner, said she's unsure how her children will rank academically with other children when it's time to send them to high school. It's a question of standards, she said. She's satisfied with the quality of education they're getting from Department of Defense schools but doesn't know what to expect when it's time to send them off-post to high school.

"I feel like public, private and charter schools need to be playing by the same rules," she said.

Military leaders have long made similar points when talking about Common Core standards for the nation's schools. A checkerboard of mismatched state and local standards across the country isn't helpful to families that must often pick up stakes and move across the country, where their youngsters may find themselves academically far above or below their new classmates.

So far, DeVos has continued her strong advocacy for local education standards and for giving families choices to use public, private or charter schools. This may be helpful to some military families, but only if there are uniform standards in place, as well as the sort of accountability that isn't often present when federal or state tax dollars support students in private or charter schools.

DeVos' visit to Fort Bragg may have given the education secretary something important to think about. We hope it did.