Education recovers from elections and super storms

Hurricane Sandy temporarily shuttered 198 school districts in New York City and more than 300 in New Jersey last week, amounting to what Education Week called one of the “largest disruptions to schooling in the United States in recent years.” When most Big Apple students returned to school on Monday, they faced gridlock that would make even the most jaded New Yorker balk: packed trains, long lines at bus stops, and persistent gas shortages. Our hats our off to the Gotham teachers, parents, and students who overcame these obstacles and more to keep kids learning this week.

For aspiring education know-it-alls, Goldman Sachs has a simple (and lucrative) challenge: Explain what we should do to create a strong U.S. education system that works for all, improves student outcomes, and enables our country to regain its leadership position in the field of education—in three pages or less. The best entry will garner one lucky person a cool $10,000 (and the ancillary benefit of having mapped out a way to fix education). Gadfly would enter, but just can’t seem to explain Reform Realism in less than four pages.

President Obama will have quite the agenda in his upcoming term—what should he and Arne Duncan tackle first? Will they jump right to Head Start reform? Perhaps crack down on states and districts not living up to promises they made to acquire Race to the Top funding? Here’s one prediction: It won’t be ESEA reauthorization. Crazy as it may seem, a still-divided congress and the breathing room NCLB waivers provided mean it really could be several more years before we see the feds renew the nation’s most important education law.

School-choice advocates would do well to remember that even with this week’s victory in Georgia and probable victory in Washington State, there are plenty of people in need of convincing. Now is not the time to rest on laurels. More voters in the Evergreen State thought it was a good idea to legalize pot on Tuesday than to legalize charter schools.

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