Yesterday, Fordham hosted a fascinating conversation between two of the GOP’s leading ed-policy experts: Senator Lamar Alexander and Margaret Spellings. The pair of former U.S. education secretaries delved into the role of the feds in education, NCLB’s legacy and future, ESEA reauthorization, the Obama administration’s waiver program, and much more.
One highlight not to be missed came when Senator Alexander objected to the idea that the federal government must force states and districts into action and Ms. Spellings argued that depictions of Washington’s mandates are often overblown.
Ed Week’s invaluable Politics K-12 blog had a thorough wrap-up and you can watch the entire conversation below:
What a difference a decade makes. For all the debate around vouchers and student loans, perhaps the most striking element of Mitt Romney’s education agenda is how much it differs from the approach of No Child Left Behind, the defining policy of the George W. Bush years. That does not mean, however, that other Republicans necessarily agree with it. The GOP stance on education, and particularly federal education policy, is clearly shifting. But in any clear direction? And for the better?
To examine those questions, Fordham is bringing together two former GOP education secretaries for "Ten Years After NCLB: Is the GOP Moving Forward, Backward, or Sideways on Education?" There’s still time to register to join the conversation with Senator Lamar Alexander and Margaret Spellings at 9 a.m. EDT on July 26. See you there!
With barely four months to go until Election Day, we are well within the “zone”—that time period in which every single Administration decision is made through the prism of presidential politics. Particularly in swing states, not a grant gets issued, not a speech gets uttered without someone in the White House weighing its potential electoral impact.
Arne Duncan's rejection of the Hawkeye State's request for an NCLB waiver was a bold move in an election year.
Photo by US Department of Education.
So I was amazed, befuddled, dumbstruck, bemused (choose your own adjective) to learn that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has rejected a request from Iowa for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. What political courage! What political suicide! Did Duncan and the White House politicos not understand that he’s handing Mitt Romney a handy campaign issue in up-for-grabs Iowa?
What’s most remarkable is the reason the Administration is turning down Iowa’s waiver request: Because the state legislature refuses to enact a statewide teacher evaluation plan. As you may recall, such evaluations were one of the mandates (er, conditions) placed on states that want flexibility from ESEA’s broken accountability requirements. And as many of us have argued,
As Jay Mathews perceptively observed over the weekend, and as others of us have been pointing out for a while, the Obama-Duncan team didn't leave a heckuva lot of education-reform terrain for Mitt Romney to occupy except for variations on the theme of vouchers. And occupy it he has done. But "voucherizing Title I" is not a new idea. I recall working with Bill Bennett on it—and Reagan then proposed it—a quarter century ago. Getting such a major change enacted would, I think, hinge not only on Governor Romney reaching the Oval Office but also on a GOP sweep in both houses of Congress. But getting it fully considered is well worth doing.
Why not try strapping the money to the backs of needy kids and letting them take it to the schools of their choice?
As America nears the half-century mark with Title I, we can fairly conclude that pumping all this money into districts to boost the budgets of schools serving disadvantaged kids hasn't done those kids much good, though it has surely been welcomed by revenue-hungry districts (and states). Evaluation after evaluation of Title I has shown it to have little or no positive impact, and everybody knows that the NCLB version of Title I hasn't done much good either. It has, however, yielded an enormous number of schools that we now know, without doubt, are doing a miserable job, particularly with disadvantaged kids, but we're having a
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
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