Our goal should be the best K–12 education in the nation. That is a tall order, given our urban-rural expanse, our demographic mix, and the grinding poverty of so many school districts. For starters, Texas would fund a network of five hundred first-class, high-expectations magnet schools in every region. These schools would be more rigorous than anything we have today. They could be placed within local school systems that have been selected by performance. The well-paid teachers for these Texas academies would be selected by competition only and recruited from special programs like Teach for America.

Cisneros was mayor of San Antonio from 1981 to 1989 and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Bill Clinton. He is the executive chairman of Cityview, a homebuilders financing company.

(On the Web: a related idea from Marco Portales, an author and professor of English at Texas A&M.)

The Next Big Idea »

All 54 ideas from the magazine »
And 28 more you’ll find only on the web »