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The Need to Transform Schools

Education has been a high priority for Americans since the first settlers arrived here. The Founding Fathers thought a free society would be impossible without an educated population. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, said: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

Today about nine of every 10 students attend schools that are owned, operated, and staffed by government employees. About 70 percent of the teachers in those schools belong to unions, working under workplace rules that frustrate the best and brightest while protecting incompetent and even dangerous teachers.

Curriculum has been debased by teachers, administrators, and politicians mandating one-size-fits-all standards in order to avoid being held responsible for falling student achievement. Alarming evidence is emerging that the problems affecting public schools are spreading to private schools as they increasingly adopt the curricula and tests used in the public sector.

There is widespread concern that public schools in the United States are delivering too few graduates with the reading, writing, knowledge, and workplace skills necessary to meet the challenges of a global economy in the twenty-first century.

How to Transform K–12 Education

The Heartland Institute focuses on reform ideas that can transform rather than merely reform K–12 schools. Three specific reforms we support are repealing and replacing Common Core State Standards, expanding education choice, and repealing bigoted Blaine Amendments.


Title: Eye on 2022: How to Advance School Choice in the States
Description: The Heartland Institute's Tim Benson and Cameron Sholty briefed state legislators on how they can advance school choice in their states in 2022. They talked about education savings accounts (ESAs), tax-credit scholarship programs, vouchers, and a host of other issues related to education freedom. Heartland also examined education choice success stories throughout the country over the past year and demonstrated how to tailor programs to meet the realities on the ground in the various states so that you can help carry the momentum of 2021 into the next legislative session.

Education Experts Team

The Heartland Institute's experts on education issues are available for legislative testimony, speaking engagements, and media interviews.

Heartland Staff Policy Experts