In Search of Relevancy

It’s been a busy week in education, what with SAT scores released, the Miller-McKeon draft dropped, and classes starting in school districts across the nation.  It can be a tough time to gain some meaningful news coverage this year, even if you are the educator-in-chief.

We’ve all commented on the incredible media coverage Margaret Spellings has received since becoming Secretary of Education.  She has been focused on issues, level-headed in her comments, and in control of the situation.  Even as Reading First scandals swirled and IG reports became best-sellers, Spellings knew how to stay on message, reframe the issues, and remain relevant.

But this week, Spellings has Eduflack scratching his head.  First, she’s up in Alaska, doing a day of NCLB “tours.”  While I understand the call to support a Republican Senator in trouble, are the votes in the Alaskan congressional delegation and the public opinion in our northern-most state really a pressing need for the U.S. Department of Education?  And if the goal was to focus on rural education issues, there are far more effective ways to draw attention the challenges of rural ed than leaving the lower 48.

And then there was the Q&A in today’s USA Today.  Spellings has always played well with USA Today, and the newspaper has always had a clear understanding of the intent of the law, the progress it has made, and the challenges Spellings and company face during reauthorization and beyond. 

Check out the Q&A, though.  It is an interesting read, sure.  But there seems to be a disconnect between the interview and the very real issues policymakers are dealing with on NCLB and related issues.  There was no sense of urgency.  There was no sense of the push to improve the law.  There was no unwavering commitment to improving the quality, delivery, and impact of education for all students.  It reads more like a coffee shop chat than it does a call to action to more than a million readers.

Could it be that the U.S. Secretary of Education has lost her relevancy in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act? 

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