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Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform.

Law & Courts Opinion

Vallas, Bridgeport, & Licensure: One More Thing

By Rick Hess — July 12, 2013 1 min read

Several folks have written regarding yesterday’s post on the Vallas situation in Bridgeport to argue that the judge got the ruling wrong. They assert that the law was indeed modified and that Vallas complied with the new requirements. It’s a Friday afternoon in the summer, so let’s keep this short and sweet.

Arguing that the judge misapplied the law is significant. So what puzzles me is why this point was not mentioned in the press releases or public comments issued by Vallas supporters on Wednesday. I had a number of these sent to me in various forms, and I saw no mention of this argument. Instead, all I saw was platitudes and overheated, “it’s for the kids” rhetoric. And, if all advocates offer is sentiment and cant, most observers will assume that’s because they don’t have anything more substantive to say.

Lawyers have a bit of wisdom that’s relevant here for those engaged in the education debates: “When you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. When you have the law on your side, argue the law. When you have neither, pound the table.” When reformers believe they have a strong case, they should take care to make it -- publicly and clearly. And, in any event, we could all do with a little less table-pounding.

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