Board's Bid For Funding Is Opposed
Washington--This month, Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, plans to introduce a bill in the Congress that would provide $25 million to help the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards develop new teacher assessments.
But the board's request for federal funding--which it has pledged to match with $25 million from other sources--has also drawn fire from sectors of the education community.
The governing board of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, for example, has voted to oppose the request.
The group's statement said aacte agrees that "substantial research and development efforts" are needed before national standards for teaching can be established.
But any federal funding for such activities, it said, should be allocated through the Education Department's office of educational research and improvement.
'Sole Source' Award
"By identifying the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as the recipient for federal funds, this is a sole-source award, and it bypasses the traditional mechanisms of peer review and open competition," said Penelope Earley, director of aacte's government-relations office.
"We have a long tradition of opposing sole-source awards," she said. "And there was also a feeling there was not sufficient accountability for the use of the federal money."
The director of the Council for Educational Development and Research, which represents research laboratories funded by the Education Department, also opposes the request.
But several other groups, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, support it.
David Mandel, the teaching-standards board's vice president for policy development, argues that the board is a "unique and distinctive" organization that must maintain some independence from the government, even with federal aid.
"It's important that it be clear to the rest of the education community that the board's standards and assessment practices have been independently arrived at by the board itself," he said, "and have not been influenced, coerced, or otherwise manipulated by the federal government."
Mr. Mandel said the board has committed itself to an "extensive" set of accountability practices, including peer review, regular reports to the federal government about its work, and audits by the government or any other public or private contributor.
In addition, he said, all of its research will be made available to the public.
"The board will be very much in the public eye," he added, "and will not only be accountable to the federal government, but to other private funders and to the entire educational community."
"In the end," he said, "the success of the board rests on the trustworthiness and the quality of the work that it conducts and the standards and assessment processes that it develops."--lo