Here are five questions that I believe every politician for higher office in 2012 should be asked about education:
1. What is the mission of our K-12 public education system? How should success or failure be measured? How have changes in the external world over the last two decades significantly changed the tactics, strategies, risks, or opportunities of public education? Who should decide what schools teach?
2. Is the current trajectory of public education on the right track or wrong track? At what signs do you look to make your personal assessment? If/where it is wrong, how should it be altered? Are these management challenges (incrementally improving the current system) or leadership challenges (changing the current system)? President Obama quoted the book Unschooling Rules saying "standardized tests are too punitive." Do you agree?
3. What is the right/target percentage of GDP this nation should spend on K-12 education? For education at all levels? What is the right breakdown between public and private funding? What is the role of such national government education funding mechanisms as Department of Education or National Science Foundation?
4. What choices should families have and make regarding their education path for their children at any level? How many options should be available for a healthy ecosystem? If a diversity of approaches is desired, what is the role of government in encouraging diversity of approaches?
5. Legally, is an undergraduate college degree a defendable generic requirement for a job? Do you believe the current student college debt situation is a problem, or even a crisis? How should that be handled?
What are other questions that should be asked?