Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke to a crowd of about 1,000 in Indianapolis, Thursday morning, about education.
She talked about her family’s emphasis on getting top-notch schooling when she was young and what she thinks can be done to open better educational doors for all Americans.
"You can not control your circumstances, but you can control your response to your circumstances," said Rice, who added that having a sound educational foundation is the key to forming that response.
Despite drops in the rankings, Dr. Rice said the United States is still viewed as a world leader in education, specifically among colleges and universities. But, she said there must be greater attention given toward improving the system or the country will suffer.
"The crisis in K-12 education is our greatest national security crisis today," said Rice.
The event at the Light of the World Christian Church was hosted by The Mind Trust, a non-profit focused on public education reform.
"Everybody is saying that it is unacceptable that we have half the kids, for example, in IPS who aren’t proficient in both math and reading or half the kids who aren’t graduating," said The Mind Trust founder David Harris. "So, it’s really important that we acknowledge that we have a big challenge in front of us, but we need lots of voices at the table to come up with the right solutions."
Rice said she supports the Common Core as one solution because it’s important that students in Indiana, Alabama, California, and beyond learn the same basic skills. She acknowledged that not everyone is in favor of the system, but encouraged them to come up with ideas that set some kind of minimum standard for students.
Pastor David Hampton of Light of the World Christian Church hopes Dr. Rice’s visit motivates others to go out and lead the charge for change.
"We must find ways to educate our children in ways that no one is disenfranchised, that everyone has equal access," he said. "I think (Rice) understands and gets that we can not be a strong nation if we don’t invest in the future, which is our children."
"We can differ on the strategies, but I think we all have the same passion, that we are the same in that education is important."
Dr. Rice’s words left a lasting impression on Indianapolis-resident Raquel Woods.
"I think that people believe in her. I personally look up to her," she said. "I am not in education, but I am so passionate now that my husband works in education and hearing her speak about it, that I now want to step on board and help in any way that I can to promote education within our community."