There's no sign that reauthorization of the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (ESRA, to its friends) has even made it onto Congress's to-do list, but controversy is beginning to dog one key element of it: the part that affords the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and its Commissioner (currently Mark Schneider) and the education data for which they're responsible some independence and protection from political and bureaucratic abuse. This dispute is well described by Debra Viadero in the latest Education Week. On one side we find IES director Grover "Russ" Whitehurst and his policy advisory board, seeking to tame and subordinate the government's main education statistics agency. On the other side, we find just about everyone who has any respect or concern for the integrity and trustworthiness of education data. The symbolic focus of the disagreement is whether the NCES commissioner should be appointed by (and serve at the pleasure of) the IES director or continue to be nominated by the president (to a fixed term) and subject to Senate confirmation. Guess which side is right?
"Debate Erupts on How to Pick Chief of U.S. Schools Data," by Debra Viadero, Education Week, June 18, 2008