For years Guy Doud has talked about challenges the American education system faces. Tuesday morning, a worldwide audience was listening.
Doud spoke on CNN at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday from Washington, D.C. Later that day he attended a gathering at the National Press Club and gave a speech along with Martin Luther King III that was televised on Fox News. Later, Doud attended the press club luncheon, which was later aired on CSPAN.
"It was pretty exciting," Doud said. "... I felt rather overwhelmed."
Doud said he sat next to Jack Kemp, former vice presidential candidate and cabinet secretary, at the luncheon. Joseph Califano, former Carter Administration secretary of health, education and welfare, also spoke.
"It was pretty incredible," Doud said from his home Wednesday. "That was quite an experience."
Doud, a former National Teacher of the Year, Baxter resident and current pastor in Nisswa, was one of three people interviewed about the state of the nation's education system.
Daryn Kagen, from the CNN News Center, interviewed Doud, Ted Forstmann, philanthropist and driving force of the national non-profit organization Parents in Charge, and Elliot Mincberg, from People for the American Way.
Competition as a tool to strengthen a troubled American education system, greater parental involvement and more school choice were issues discussed.
Doud is a board member for the Children's Scholarship Fund that Forstmann co-founded with John Walton, Wal-Mart. The fund awards scholarships to low-income families to help them choose a school of their choice for their children's education. Parents must make less than $20,000 per year and put $1,000 of their own money toward their child's education.
Doud said the goal behind the recent discussion is to get parents talking about being in charge of their children's education and realizing it's a possibility.
"We are not advocating vouchers," Doud said. "We are not anti-public education at all."
Changes in education since a Carnegie report about a nation at risk came out in 1983 have been largely cosmetic with the addition of middle schools, longer school days or year-round schooling, Doud said.
"Yet that hasn't really fixed the fundamental problem," Doud said. He said the system is broken and teachers often perform miracles in what can seem like hopeless situations. Doud, who has toured every state of the union and met with teachers, parents and administrators, said fear of school violence and high drop-out rates are current issues. He said 80 percent of inner city students in Houston, Texas, drop out of school.
"That's unbelievable. We can't begin to relate when one out of 10 kids in Minnesota drops out."
Despite research that shows students learn through different methods, Doud said the elementary school flexibility to reach those children stops in about seventh grade.
"You'll all learn through one delivery method in the same amount of time," Doud said of the change, noting the typical method is a lecture format "despite the fact that we know that lecture is the least effective means of instruction."
Doud said on a national average it costs about $8,000 a year to send a child to a public school, and private schools average $4,000 a year per pupil.
The New York City-based Children's Scholarship Fund that helps parents fund school choices had 1.25 million applications before program publicity even started, Doud said.
"That tells you that parents are desperate all across this country to have some say in where their kids go to school."
The fund provided more than $170 million for 40,000 nationwide scholarships for low-income families, CSF reported.
Doud said the open enrollment option in Minnesota that allows students to choose a school is unique as most places limit parents' choices to schools in a ward or city. A public school teacher himself for much of his working life, Doud said today's education system is so bureaucratic it can be stifling to teachers and allows little parental input.
"We have a university system in America that is the envy of the world and what that allows people is choice," Doud said. "We need similar choices when it comes to K through 12 education.
"Competition is always good. It's always healthy."
In regard to concerns about public money going to private or religious schools, Doud said government funds send students to universities like Notre Dame.
"It's not a problem at the university level," he said. "Why should it be a problem at the K through 12 level? What it does is drives the bad schools out of business. ... I think parents should have the right to choose what's best for their children.
"... We just need more alternatives for kids."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.