The State Education Agency: At the Helm, Not the OarWhen Fordham released The State Education Agency: At the Helm, Not the Oar, which argued that smaller is better when it comes to state education agencies, the education community took note. Andy Smarick, a coauthor of the report, is in violent agreement with the folks over at the Center for Reinventing Public Education, and even state chiefs are open to these ideas. Here’s some of the best commentary about the white paper (so far):

Paul Hill, founder of CRPE, writes,

Slogans are useful, but they can mislead. We can’t just “blow up” the old governance system, we also have to build a new one. We need superintendents and board members to “relinquish” old regulatory functions, but we must also design new agencies that delegate, not abdicate, their responsibility to kids, parents, and communities.

Also from CRPE, research analyst Ashley Jochim notes political pitfalls:

Today, chiefs’ ability to weather their time at the helm depends greatly on their political skill, fortitude, and good luck. Transformation of SEAs will require a serious effort to convince governors and legislators that states can play a more constructive role, and that doing so will lead to real benefits for children. Reformers are starting to make that case intellectually but have barely begun addressing it politically, saying why elected officials should support state actions that some constituencies will oppose.

Michael McShane from AEI beats the conservative drum:

If conservatives want to keep states in control and to reverse the ever-federalizing trend that started during the Great Society, they will have to prove to voters that they have the ability to manage a first-class education system at the state level.

Whitney Meagher of the National Association of State Boards of Education notes that these ideas don’t require policymakers to reinvent the wheel:

If states choose to follow the recommendations of this report, they will not need to create a new set of policy tools. All they’ll need to do is take a page from their own textbook and adopt the procedures they are already using to ensure safe and healthy schools.


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