We regularly hear about what a noble profession education is. We all can tell stories of those teachers who inspired us and those educators who placed us on the the paths of success. We talk about how education is a top three policy issue, with voters making decisions based on education policy.
In the era of No Child Left Behind, we’ve heard a great deal about how local school boards have no productive role in 21st century education. Some see the power shifting toward the states and the federal government, with school boards simply left to rubber stamp what comes from on high. Others, like the Fordham Institute’s Checker Finn, seem to think such boards are just a breeding ground for political wannabes or former district employees with an axe to grind.
As a student, I always loved the start of a new school year. The weeks leading up to that first day meant new shoes (though I was never able to buy the expensive brand names, and <tear> never owned a pair of Air Jordans). It meant new school clothes (for me, typically purchased from the husky department at Sears). And it most definitely meant a visit to the stationery store, where I got to choose from a plethora of new pens, notebooks, and other “needed” supplies.
It is that time of year again, time for the annual PDK/Gallup Poll on America’s thoughts about public education in our great nation. And once again, the American people have demonstrated a clear schizophrenia when it comes to our classrooms.
For the past few days, these were the sorts of questions 150 or so of the nation’s leading education consulting groups, foundations, and issue organizations have been contemplating at the Knowledge Alliance’s Big Ideas Retreat 2011. As one can suspect, particularly in the current policy environment, there were far more questions than answers. But it was an interesting discussion of the major questions the space is facing nonetheless.
- How do we harness the power of technology while keeping focus on an equity agenda? (Mass. State Ed Chief Mitch Chester)
- We are now at a point where we need to think about how we can do school differently. And the answers come from the classroom. (DCPS Chancellor Kaya Henderson)
- DCPS used to “lay down” and let charters “roll right over us.” DCPS has now woken up (Henderson)
- Teach for America “needs to have evidence of its efficacy.” (TFA’s Heather Harding)
- “Performance has now been defined in our sector. It’s been defined by how students are doing.” (ED’s Jim Shelton)
- With Race to the Top, “whether it will be money well spent or now, we will have to wait and see.” (Shelton)
- We need to bring a scientific discipline to promoting local answers to education challenges. (IES Director John Easton)
- We have to build a demand for change in education. Supply isn’t the problem. (Education Week’s Virginia Edwards)
- Education research is only as good as how well we get it into the hands of educators to use it. (Edwards)
After years of “will they/won’t they.” it appears the U.S. Department of Education is finally ready to move forward with its Plan B for reforming No Child Left Behind. In a release sent out over the weekend for public consumption today, ED announced its intention to “fix” NCLB. The announcement can be found here, courtesy of Politico. Also note the Politico story on the matter.
In the late 1800s, Otto von Bismarck is famously quoted as saying, “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them made.” While those in the policy world are quick to quote (or misquote) the former German politician, sometimes we just can’t resist letting folks know what happens behind closed doors or in those previously smoke-filled rooms.