With Donald Trump set to enter the Oval Office, Vice President-elect Michael Pence seems likely to shape the federal role in education for the next four years. As a former governor who made school reform a top priority, Pence will interpret the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as a barrier to federal oversight of state and local decisions. Testing will continue but how to respond to test results will be left to the states. The lowest-performing schools will be identified but the federal government will be reluctant to instruct states as to the steps that need to be taken to improve them.
As the United States entered the 21st century it was trying to come to grips with a serious education crisis. The country lagged behind its international peers, and its half-century effort to erode racial disparities in student achievement had made little headway. Many people expected action from the federal government.
The Supreme Court, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), is now considering whether all teachers should be required to pay union determined “agency fees” for collective bargaining services, whether or not the teacher wants them. When making their case, unions would have the public believe that public school teachers stand solidly behind them.
Education analysts often compare U.S. schools to those in Finland, Korea, Poland, even Shanghai. Surprisingly, the nation of Germany rarely appears in this discourse, even though it has much in common with the United States. Each of the two nations is the largest democracy, with the biggest economy, on its continent. And each has a diverse population, strong unions, a federal system of government, demand for a skilled workforce, and a school system that in 2000 was badly in need of reform.
n 2014 the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice, acting together, sent every school district a letter asking local officials to avoid racial bias when suspending or expelling students.
Two major public opinion polls have just been released. First, Education Next (EdNext) released its ninth annual survey of over 4,083 respondents, which is administered by Knowledge Networks. (Along with Michael Henderson, we are responsible for the design and analysis of this survey.) Shortly thereafter, Phi Delta Kappan (PDK) released its own survey of 3,499 respondents, which is administered by Gallup.
Earlier this week, my colleagues and I reported, as part of the 2015 Education Next survey of public opinion, that the level of support for the Common Core had slipped over the past two years from about two thirds to about half of the public. Yet opponents still number only about a third of the public, with the rest offering no opinion one way or the other.
Testing and accountability have become a focal point of the congressional debate over the new federal education bill designed to replace No Child Left Behind (NCLB), originally scheduled to expire in 2007. The Senate and the House have each passed a bill revising the law, but disagreement persists on a key testing provision.
An ancient Armenian King, Tigranes the Great, when told Roman General Lucius Lucullus and his army were en route to Armenia, had the messenger beheaded. Unfortunately, that made it difficult for Tigranes to gather any further intelligence, Plutarch tells us.
While many in state capitols and Washington, D.C. are placing bets against state and national accountability systems that range from No Child Left Behind to Common Core State Standards, the public remains faithful to its long-standing commitment to hold schools, students and teachers accountable.
Can we believe education polls? Do different education polls yield different responses? We know from presidential election polls that most polls yield results that do not differ more than a few percentage points, but, then, the question posed is almost exactly the same: Who do you plan to vote for? Further, those polls are about a topic that has been given intense publicity for a prolonged period of time. How about education polls, which ask people their views about matters to which the media give much less attention?
“By 2019 about 50 percent of courses will be delivered online,” wrote Clayton M. Christensen and Michael B. Horn in a pathbreaking essay in 2008 (“How Do We Transform Our Schools?” features, Summer 2008).
School vouchers never had a better friend than Peter Flanigan. It was not Peter’s direct philanthropic contributions. Although he gave generously from the wealth accumulated as an investment banker, others—such as the late John Walton—drew upon deeper pockets to donate more to the common cause. Nor was Peter a theoretician who could expound the case for vouchers with Friedman-like brilliance.
In response to the article on the disparity in state proficiency standards that Peter Kaplan and I published earlier this week, one reader, Scott McLeod, referred (in a comment) to an article arguing that that “proficiency” as defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) does not really mean proficiency.