States

Governors Set Sights on Finding What Works in Education Policy

By Jessica L. Sandham — March 03, 1999 3 min read

When they got together here last week, governors from around the country explored an issue they say every state leader is grappling with: how to pinpoint and replicate what works in reforming education.

The winter meeting of the National Governors’ Association kicked off a year in which the association will explore states’ best practices through a series of regional meetings on educational technology and accountability, said Gov. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, who has made raising student achievement a key platform issue in his term as the chairman of the NGA.

“The quality of life in states will be driven by the quality of the workforce,” the Democratic governor said in a meeting with Education Week reporters and editors before the NGA conference convened. “Just as a matter of necessity, we as governors need to be proactive in education. We’ve got a lot at stake.”

Urging Accountability

In one of the plenary sessions during their four-day meeting, the governors listened to testimony on how best to implement systemwide accountability measures and incorporate education technology into classrooms. Gov. Carper said the session was designed to inspire governors with “a whole fistful of ideas we can go home and implement.”

Chicago public schools chief Paul G. Vallas described how changes in his 425,000-student system have led to rising test scores and higher graduation rates. Mr. Vallas credited Illinois lawmakers with allowing Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to take on the responsibility for improving the city’s schools. The shift was crucial, Mr. Vallas said.

“You no longer had a divide-and-conquer game,” Mr. Vallas explained. “The Republican legislature gave the Democratic mayor of the city responsibility over schools, freeing up our resources. The political responsibility for the schools was laid on the doorstep of the political leader of Chicago.”

The chief executive officer of the system also touted the district’s systemwide approach to accountability, which ensures that teachers and administrators are guaranteed their positions based on job performance, not contracts, and that students demonstrate basic proficiency on state tests before they’re promoted to the next grade.

Ultimately, students who don’t meet the standards will be retained in grade, Mr. Vallas emphasized. “Social promotion has been a cancer that has undermined school systems across America,” he said of the practice of promoting students who are academically unready.

Gov. John G. Rowland of Connecticut, a Republican who serves as a co-chairman of the association’s accountability task force, said state governments should empower local school boards to take such dramatic measures as “reconstituting"--restaffing and reforming--failing schools.

“There is a wave coming our way” in education accountability, Mr. Rowland added. “The pressure on all of us to achieve is going to be extraordinary.”

Flexibility Concerns

During a related meeting at the White House last week, President Clinton appealed to governors to support his plan to make some federal funding for education contingent on the states’ ability to meet certain requirements, including ending social promotion and creating school report cards documenting students’ progress.

“Some will say that the federal government should be giving states more flexibility, not demanding more accountability,” Mr. Clinton told the governors. “I think it’s a false choice, and the federal government should be giving you more of both.”

Many Republican governors and some Democrats responded by emphasizing the need for more flexibility in the president’s plan.

Despite the differences, “most of the governors want to have a working relationship with Washington on education policy,” Florida Gov. Jeb Bush told reporters later the same day. “We could be real partners. It’s gratifying to know that the president and the governors are addressing some of these things in the same ways.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 03, 1999 edition of Education Week as Governors Set Sights on Finding What Works in Education Policy

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Interactive Learning Best Practices: Creative Ways Interactive Displays Engage Students
Students and teachers alike struggle in our newly hybrid world where learning takes place partly on-site and partly online. Focus, engagement, and motivation have become big concerns in this transition. In this webinar, we will
Content provided by Samsung
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Educator-Driven EdTech Design: Help Shape the Future of Classroom Technology
Join us for a collaborative workshop where you will get a live demo of GoGuardian Teacher, including seamless new integrations with Google Classroom, and participate in an interactive design exercise building a feature based on
Content provided by GoGuardian
School & District Management Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: What Did We Learn About Schooling Models This Year?
After a year of living with the pandemic, what schooling models might we turn to as we look ahead to improve the student learning experience? Could year-round schooling be one of them? What about online

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Vaccine Access Speeds Up for Teachers After Biden's Declaration
The vaccine landscape for teachers shifted dramatically after President Joe Biden directed states to prioritize the K-12 workforce.
7 min read
030321 Vaccine Breaking AP BS
The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is held by a pharmacist at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut on March.
Jessica Hill
States Opinion How Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd Is Tackling the Next 5 Years
Rick Hess talks with ExcelinEd CEO Patricia Levesque about the organization's goals to improve education after the pandemic and beyond.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
States Governors, State Lawmakers: Schools Should Reopen for In-Person Learning
After months of leaving the decision up to districts, state leaders are taking a more direct role in getting students back in classrooms.
10 min read
Students at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va., sit behind plexiglass dividers to promote social distancing.
Students at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va., sit behind Plexiglas dividers. Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill that would require all school districts to offer in-person instruction with COVID-19 precautions.
Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP
States From Our Research Center State Grades on Chance for Success: 2021 Map and Rankings
Examine the grades and scores for states and the nation on the socioeconomic and other indicators in the Chance-for-Success Index.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read