Federal File

December 13, 2000 1 min read
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Nonpartisan Research

Two researchers have put forward an ambitious proposal to address what they view as a vast knowledge shortage for schooling: creating a nongovernmental education research agency.

Two researchers have put forward an ambitious proposal to address what they view as a vast knowledge shortage for schooling: creating a nongovernmental education research agency.

“Increasingly, education research within the federal establishment has been a victim of partisanship,” said David K. Cohen, an education professor at the University of Michigan. He argues that politics has colored the focus of current federal research and created doubts about its objectivity.

Mr. Cohen and Susan L. Moffitt, also from the University of Michigan, outlined the idea at a Dec. 4 conference on the federal role in education sponsored by the Washington-based Center on Education Policy.

The independent agency would focus on such matters as how to build better standards and linked assessments, connect them to instruction, and improve struggling schools, Mr. Cohen said. It would be sponsored by a broad coalition of private foundations, government, business, education groups, and others.

But the idea met with some skepticism at the conference. “Funding of research and development is very difficult to sell” unless you have clear targets, cautioned Gordon M. Ambach, the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Homespun Advice

Former Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander has some advice for Vice President Al Gore: “Come home to Tennessee.”

Mr. Alexander, a Republican who twice ran for president and served two terms as Tennessee’s governor, urged his fellow Tennessean to abandon his challenge to the presidential election in a Dec. 7 editorial-page essay in The Wall Street Journal.

“Private life can be positively liberating,” wrote Mr. Alexander, who recently co-founded an online-purchasing business called “Watch ESPN instead of CNN. ... Learn to drive again and open doors for yourself.”

—Erik W. Robelen

A version of this article appeared in the December 13, 2000 edition of Education Week


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