Over the past few weeks, the national education media has reported on the perils of being (or more importantly hiring and retaining) the urban superintendent. By now, we’ve all read of the soap opera down in Miami-Dade, first with Rudy Crew’s departure and then with the delay on the official appointment of Alberto Carvalho as Crew’s permanent replacement (it is always the fault of those reporters, after all, isn’t it).
As Eduflack has previously noted, the issues of accountability and assessment have risen to the top of the education reform heap. Thanks to the Aspen Institute and others, we seem to have consensus — at least with education and business leaders — that accountability should lead the day. And to get there, we need strong, reliable, replicable assessments that effectively measure the effectiveness of our programs, our schools, and out students.
By now, we’ve all come to accept that education issues just are not going to be major players in the presidential election. We didn’t see it in the political primaries. For the most part, we didn’t see it during the two national conventions. And it is incredibly unlikely we will see it over the next six weeks. As the nation struggles with economic issues, ongoing mortgage issues, and trillion-dollar financial market bailouts, education reform is just not a top-of-mind issue, particularly for those undecided voters that will determine the next President of the United States.
As we have reported many times before, far too many people have written Reading First off for dead. Eduflack doesn’t want to go through the litany of reasons why. It is simply too depressing. But I will say for the record, just one more time, that Reading First works. The science behind the program, making sure we are implementing what works in the classrooms that need it. Collecting data and putting it to use effectively. Implementing research-based reading programs with fidelity. All are no-brainer steps in boosting student reading ability and reading achievement in schools and classrooms across the country.
Down here in Eduflack’s temporary offices in Central America (long story, but the good news is that it looks like baby Eduflackette, who turned one on Saturday, should be coming home to the DC area for good before the end of the year), my eye was caught by a newsbrief in the NYTimes Digest (even I’m not willing to pay $8 for the full NYT down here) about the latest commission report on college admissions.
This past week at the Aspen Institute’s National Education Summit, there was one clear super password for education improvement — accountability. Superintendent after superintendent positioned accountability as the lasting mark of the NCLB era. Business leaders spoke of how accountability was the true GPS to education reform. Even EdSec Margaret Spellings has been using it to describe the education legacy of the Bush Administration. Leaving the summit on Monday evening, one thing was clear, if we are to improve our schools and better educate our students, we must redouble our commitment to the notion of accountability.
As the Aspen Institute’s National Education Summit heads into the afternoon sessions, the focus has been on standards and making sure our schools and our students are succeeding and are preparing students for the opportunities of the future. So far, this has been the strongest attempt to link K-12 education with the economy and economic opportunity. No wonder, it has been an issue that CCSSO’s Gene Wilhoit has been touting for the past year plus.
We’ve reached halftime at the Aspen Institute’s National Education Summit. So far, the sessions have been interesting … and a little surprising. What’s surprising? No one is calling for the abolition of No Child Left Behind. Even on a panel with two superintendents and the new president of the AFT, no one called for NCLB’s demise. In fact, everyone seemed to believe the law has had a positive impact on education in the United States. Why aren’t these folks talking to Congress?