Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings traveled to Florida yesterday to celebrate NCLB’s 6th anniversary. While there, she promised to be on the road shilling for the law throughout 2008.
“In the upcoming months, I’ll be visiting as many states as I can to discuss how we can continue to work together and move ahead with what is, in my opinion, our nation’s most important business—ensuring that every student receives a quality education,” she said in written testimony prepared for a committee hearing in the state capitol.
In her three years as secretary, Spellings has become the chief spokeswoman for the law. Yesterday’s testimony is a good summary of her arguments for the law.
The people I talked to said Spellings is effective at communicating her thorough understanding of education policy to a variety of people, whether they’re Capitol Hill aides, state legislators, or talk show hosts.
But is her celebrity status helpful? Here’s one anecdote that didn’t make the story. A colleague reported that at a New Year’s Eve party, Margaret Spellings’ name came up. The discussion quickly turned to the variety of eyeglasses she wears (what Joe Williams calls “sexy librarian glasses”) and speculation about the costs. (See examples, right.) That shows how well-educated, well-informed people (one of whom is an education policy wonk) think of her.
In the end, does that aid her advocacy for NCLB and other education policies? Maybe her celebrity status means people don’t take her message seriously. Or maybe her message never would have gotten through if not for her celebrity appearances.
BONUS LINK: Click here to watch Spellings’ appearance on the “Daily Show.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.