Another Exit

“Wild” Gene Hickok has announced his resignation as the #2 person at the Department of Education. Couple of quick thoughts:

*This was hardly unexpected, as soon as the President nominated Margaret Spellings as his next Secretary of Education the question became when, not if.

*This will only fuel more conservative angst; they viewed Hickok as a big ally. Too bad for them…(unless President Bush appoints another conservative or school choice Kool-Aid type to the post).

*Say whatever else you want about Hickok (and Eduwonk will in a moment) he cared deeply about education. You could disagree with him but it was hard to doubt his passion for trying to improve schools.

*But, in Eduwonk’s view Hickok’s passion too often translated into a deterministic view of education policy. He believed too strongly in the invisible hand of the market, had too much faith that data would wake the public and policymakers from their slumber and galvanize action. His faith in these things meant that he viewed policy as more of a “what” than a “how” business, when in fact it needs to be both. The NCLB framework does provide a lot of important data, but educators must know how and be able to use it. Likewise, choice does offer benefits but any education marketplace must be carefully regulated for quality and even Adam Smith cannot obviate the need to ensure that schools have the “how”, too.

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