Ten Years After NCLB: Is the GOP Moving Forward, Backward, or Sideways on Education?
July 26, 2012
What a difference a decade makes. For all the debate around vouchers and student loans, perhaps the most striking element of Mitt Romney's education agenda is how much it differs from the approach of No Child Left Behind, the defining policy of the George W. Bush years. That does not mean, however, that other Republicans necessarily agree with it. The GOP stance on education, and particularly federal education policy, is clearly shifting. But in any clear direction? And for the better?
To examine those questions, the Fordham Institute will bring together two former GOP education secretaries to discuss the Republican Party's direction on this vital issue.
A decade after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, the GOP stance on education, and particularly federal education policy, is clearly shifting. But in any clear direction? And for the better? To examine those questions, the Fordham Institute will bring together two former GOP education secretaries to debate the Republican Party’s direction on this vital issue. Join the conversation with Senator Lamar Alexander and Margaret Spellings at 9 a.m. EDT on July 26 by tuning into the live webcast.
Since 2010, the Center on Education Policy (CEP) has issued two handfuls of reports on the reborn federal School Improvement Grant (SIG) program. These latest three (1) tackle the challenges related to SIG staffing requirements, (2) tackle the challenges related to increased learning time, and (3) profile the culture changes made in six SIG schools. The first and third reports are worth mentioning. In the first, surveyed state leaders explain that finding and keeping quality principals and teachers is difficult for SIG schools, especially those in rural areas. Yet just 21 percent broke the hiring mold and offered recruiting and appointment assistance to SIG schools and districts looking for qualified staffers. It’s unclear from the survey data how many states and districts are utilizing alternative recruitment pathways like New Leaders or Teach For America. Instead, some state officials interviewed called for the relaxation of SIG schools’ replacement mandates. Indeed, just 55 percent of those in states with schools undergoing the “transformation” model (where the school must replace the principal and implement other programmatic and structural reforms) felt that replacing the school’s leader was a key or “somewhat” key element in upping student achievement. (Of course, there are inherent flaws in state-official survey data.) In the third report, CEP explains specific strategies implemented to change schools’ cultures, including requiring uniforms, hiring behavior specialists, and improving teacher collaboration (via pay for instructional coaching, etc.). Interviewees, unsurprisingly, most often cited improvements in school climate as the greatest success after Year 1 of...
What a difference a decade makes. For all the debate around vouchers and student loans, perhaps the most striking element of Mitt Romney’s education agenda is how much it differs from the approach of No Child Left Behind, the defining policy of the George W. Bush years. That does not mean, however, that other Republicans necessarily agree with it. The GOP stance on education, and particularly federal education policy, is clearly shifting. But in any clear direction? And for the better?
The Obama administration passed the halfway mark last Friday in its ongoing effort to dismantle the most vexing accountability requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, one waiver at a time. By exempting Wisconsin and Washington from the ever-unattainable goal of reaching near-universal math and reading proficiency by 2014, the Department of Education brings the grand total of liberated states to twenty-six, with ten more (plus D.C.) eagerly awaiting word on their applications from Arne Duncan. Yet despite its importance in reshaping the federal role in education, the waiver program defies easy labels. Forget EduJobs or Race to the Top: ESEA flexibility is likely the Obama administration’s greatest contribution to education policy, but it may also prove to be a politicalliability in this fall’s election. Despite being driven by a Democratic administration in Washington, it’s welcomed by many Republican governors relieved to escape requirements dictated from D.C. It’s at once a necessity given congressional gridlock but also illegal given its end-run around the legislature. It purports to offer flexibility but in many ways ratchets up federal rulemaking. Unless Congress can make any headway in reauthorization, however, the real legacy of the waiver policy won’t be reshaping accountability (and teacher evaluation and standards, etc.) in dozens of states—it will be shifting the federal role in education from the Capitol to the White House.
Kathleen Porter-Magee makes her podcast debut, debating reading requirements with Mike and explaining why the new science standards need improvement. Amber wonders whether upper-elementary teachers outshine their K-2 peers.
Amber's Research Minute
School Based Accountability and the Distribution of Teacher Quality Among Grades in Elementary School by Sarah C. Fuller & Helen F. Ladd - Download PDF
With barely four months to go until Election Day, every single Obama administration decision is inevitably viewed through the prism of presidential politics. Which is why Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s rejection of a request from Iowa for flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is particularly perplexing. Do Duncan and the White House politicos not understand that he’s handing Mitt Romney a handy campaign issue in an up-for-grabs state? What’s most remarkable is the reason the administration is turning down Iowa’s waiver request: Because the state legislature refuses to enact a statewide teacher-evaluation plan. As you may recall, such evaluations are one of the mandates (er, conditions) placed on states that want flexibility from ESEA’s broken accountability requirements. And as many of us have argued, such conditions are patently illegal. There’s nothing in ESEA that indicates that the Secretary has the authority to demand such conditions be met in order for waiver requests to be approved. Expect Governor Romney to talk up this issue the next time he’s in the Hawkeye State as yet another example of executive overreach and federal micromanagement. Iowans love their schools and their teachers; it’s...