Washington Movers Chart Big Changes for K-12 Policy

March 20, 2008 1 min read

Yesterday, I pointed out that people as diverse as Margaret Spellings and Randi Weingarten are floating ideas that will inform NCLB’s reauthorization. Today, I can report that some old hands in Washington are thinking of way to do the same thing.

At a panel discussion organized by Education Sector, Jack Jennings said that his Center on Education Policy is organizing a group that will recommend new directions for federal K-12 policy. “We’re going to fundamentally rethink the federal role in education,” said Jennings, who worked for House Democrats from 1967 through 1994 and has been the Center on Education Policy’s leader since then. He expects his group will issue a report in January—just in time for a new administration to read it.

For her part, Kati Haycock of the Education Trust is looking to create education’s version of the National Institutes of Health. “What passes for evidence [in education] is pathetic,” she said. She’s also trying to find ways to get teachers the curricula and materials they say they need, citing their desire for clear definition of what to teach. What they really want is national standards, she said.

I must say that my recent items (see here and here) that House leaders are pessimistic on NCLB’s prospects this year has sparked a small existential crisis for my inner blogger. If the Senate doesn’t succeed, what’s my purpose as a blogger about NCLB reauthorization?

After this week’s events, I convinced that I won’t lack for important ideas and events to write about if until Congress gets the law reauthorized, even if that takes until 2010.

AN AFTERTHOUGHT: Samuel Halperin provides some context for those who think the stakes are high in this NCLB reauthorization. At today’s event, he talked about how K-12 bills stalled in Congress for a decade because Southerners blocked efforts to tie federal aid to the desegregation of their schools. The debate over “differential accountability” and the universal proficiency seems small by comparison.

A version of this news article first appeared in the NCLB: Act II blog.