Rapid changes in the global economy and within education are sparking fierce battles over the future of public schools in statehouses and cities across the country. In this interactive, explore the ideas that have sparked those battles and the key players who are influencing the debate. Read the related story.
As some groups lobby for expanding charter schools and enacting "parent-trigger" laws, others say the emphasis should be on improving existing public schools.
As the common core moves into the classroom and common tests draw closer, people are debating whether local communities are losing too much control over their schools.
Citing low performance and enrollment declines, districts are closing or dramatically remaking schools, but many parents and educators argue that what the schools really need is more resources.
A heated debate is ongoing about how much, if any, of a teacher's evaluation should be based on student test scores.
Schools are exploring digital education and adopting other technology, raising fears that teachers may be replaced and that companies might hold too much sway.
Some influential people and organizations that represent a myriad of issues across the political spectrum are shaping the education policy debate across the country. Among them:
|Michelle A. Rhee|
Some local affiliates of these powerful national unions are especially active in fighting school closings and putting too much emphasis on test scores in teacher evaluations.
This free-market, limited-government legislative policy group has worked to bring vouchers and parent-trigger laws to states, while working to make sure the common core doesn't lead to a federally mandated curriculum.
Chairman, Foundation for Excellence in Education: The former Florida governor, through his foundation and an affiliated group of state schools chiefs called Chiefs for Change, is lobbying for states to embrace vouchers and school choice, adopt A-F school grading systems, expand digital education, and tie teacher evaluations to test scores.
President, College Board: He is one of the chief architects of the English/language arts common standards, developed while he was at Student Achievement Partners.
Education Professor, Stanford University: A leading voice on teacher quality, she is opposed to tying test scores to evaluations and has been highly critical of alternative routes to certification, including the Teach For America program.
Especially active in New York state, the political action committee started to fight the clout of teachers' unions within the Democratic Party and works to expand charter schools and redesign teacher evaluations.
U.S. Secretary of Education: The former CEO of the Chicago public schools has pursued an aggressive agenda to cajole states into tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, adopting common standards and tests, expanding the charter school sector, and taking drastic action to turn around failing schools.
Co-Founder and CEO, Stand for Children: Sometimes a lightning rod for union criticism, his organization has used its state affiliates to push to tie teacher evaluations to test scores and to increase funding for schools.
The Seattle-based foundation has funneled tens of millions of dollars into education redesign efforts, with a particular focus on improving teacher quality.
The national group, co-founded by New York City parent activist Leonie Haimson, fights against parent-trigger laws, mass school closings, and high-stakes testing.
The giant publishing and testing company, which is criticized for its influence over education, will be key in developing materials for the common standards.
Research Professor of Education, New York University: A former assistant U.S. secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, she promoted voluntary national standards then and is now a leading critic of the common standards and what she calls "corporate reform."
Founder and CEO, StudentsFirst: The former chancellor of the District of Columbia schools uses her organization to push states to adopt charter schools and vouchers, parent-trigger laws, mayoral control of schools, and use of student-growth measures as half of teacher and principal evaluations.
Superintendent of Schools, Montgomery County, Md.: He is skeptical of current prescriptions for improving education and has called for a three-year moratorium on testing while the common core is implemented.
Professor Emerita of Education, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville: The co-author of Massachusetts' highly regarded standards, she is now a frequent and vocal critic of the common core in state capitols.
A major education philanthropy, the Bentonville, Ark.-based foundation is a big investor in charter schools and other school choice initiatives such as parent-trigger laws.
Sources: Phi Delta Kappa-Gallup Poll (2012); the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher (2012); Scholastic, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Primary Sources study (2012); Leading Education by Advancing Digital Commission Poll (2012)
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