SAT woes and reform foes make headlines

You can explain away yet another (slight) decline in SAT scores by citing the expanding test-taking population and its changing demographics. But let’s face it: The longest-lived and most widely noted marker of American high school attainment continues to flat-line, or worse, despite all the reforming, all the spending, and all the hand-wringing.

The American Enterprise Institute’s resident education gurus, Rick Hess and Andrew Kelly, offer up a clear-headed plan for a conservative federal education agenda in the latest edition of National Affairs. While there are historical oversimplifications (particularly their take on the Reagan and Bush I eras), and there’s far too little attention to the complexities of civil-rights enforcement (and the federal role therein), the essay provides a valuable look at the contradictions of conservatives in the education arena and defines a clear and useful role for the national government that leaders in Washington (and candidates hoping to join those ranks) would be wise to give more than a glance.

Randi Weingarten and Karen Lewis teamed up to defend the teacher union's victory in the recent Chicago strike (and bury any hint of a power struggle?) in the pages of the Wall Street Journal this week. "Solution-driven unionism" is unlikely to win many converts among the Journal's readers but it was a welcome reminder that, while they may have prevailed on the streets of Chicago, the teacher unions still have plenty they need to defend to the nation regarding their actions over the last few weeks.

Forget New Orleans and New York City. Ground zero for education reform these days is (!) Boise. Armed with a talented state chief in Tom Luna and a hard-charging governor in Butch Otter, Idaho is positioned to enact major changes to teacher policy this fall. While squabbles over class size between the presidential candidates may steal the national headlines, it’s state-level moves like this that matter most for schools and kids.

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