Complacency and false promises—we can’t afford either
The Obama administration would like to spend $1 billion to improve STEM education by creating a Master Teacher Corps of higher-paid expert math and science educators. Prioritizing STEM is admirable and Arne Duncan deserves credit for being willing to pay some teachers more than others, but the fact that the Obama administration is hauling out these “be generous to teachers” schemes during the run up to a close presidential election smacks of politicking, rather than sound policy.
Nearly two-thirds of the states seem thrilled with their exemptions from NCLB accountability requirements—just don’t ask folks in the Hawkeye State about the Department of Education’s version of flexibility. Iowa’s director of education said this week that the state’s NCLB waiver rejection has created an “unworkable situation,” perhaps a sign that the Obama administration may yet regret playing tough with Iowa’s application come November.
Larry Summers penned a Washington Post op-ed this week arguing that the firestorm over income inequality (really a debate over outcomes) must shift to a focus on equality of opportunity. Agreed, but here’s hoping that Summers’s faith in public education’s ability to provide opportunities that spur social mobility isn’t overly optimistic.
Marriage matters, the New York Times argued this weekend, pointing to the economic disadvantages of growing up in a single-parent household. Perhaps the parenting and poverty problems that are so often cited in in education debates are one and the same after all.
A Los Angeles Times editorial argues that overreliance on standardized testing may hinder the U.S.’s economic competitiveness. While Gadfly takes solace that editorial boards recognize the importance of education in ensuring America’s international competitiveness and aren’t falling victim to America’s pervasive complacency about education, this might be precisely the wrong moment to ease up on rigorous standards-based accountability.
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, recently raided by federal agents, apparently pays tens of millions of dollars to for-profit and nonprofit companies run by former executives at the school. Digital-learning advocates must rally to condemn and prevent such shenanigans in their emerging sector or they risk unnecessarily reliving the worst mistakes of the charter-school movement.