Billboards don’t make good policy

Designer Kenneth Cole dipped his toe into the education reform fray recently with a New York City billboard that framed “teachers’ rights vs. students’ rights” as an issue in his foundation’s “Where Do You Stand?” campaign. The offending sign was quickly scrapped amidst the ensuing Internet furor, but its very existence should give reformers pause: Education reform is an increasingly mainstream cause, but one that will bring plenty of headaches if billboard rhetoric replaces serious discourse.

As he is obliged to do, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defended the Obama Administration’s education track record this week, describing “transformational change” that is “beginning to fundamentally improve the lives of students.” While not everyone shares Arne’s rosy assessment, it’s worth reviewing in case Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney decides to run as the “education candidate” in 2012.

Attorney (and dogged special-ed reformer) Miriam Kurtzig Freedman provided four sound ideas for updating this entire realm in a recent essay for TheAtlantic.com, wherein she outlines outlining a less bureaucratic, less litigious, and more commonsensical approach. Here’s hoping lawmakers give Freedman a read.

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