Two recent policy happenings are noteworthy as much for what happened as for what didn’t:
Silence of the lambs: Upward Bound is an important program and expanding access to higher education for currently underserved populations is an important policy goal. But, Upward Bound should be subject to the same standards of evaluation as any other program precisely because it’s important and needs to be as effective as possible. Yet Congress has inserted itself into the research process by basically dictating a method to evaluate the program to ensure favorable results and guard against findings that might show the program needs to improve. Where is the outrage from the research and knowledge community? It’s all in private because they don’t want to stick their necks out on this one so aside from a squib in AERA’s newsletter, mostly silence. The advocates aren’t that scary and this is an awful precedent for research and evaluation.
Silence of the clams: Despite the raging debate about whether schools should be held accountable for helping to close the achievement gap absent improvements in other social services, it’s hard not to miss that the mainline establishment education organizations have put a lot more effort into taking the teeth out of No Child Left Behind than overriding the President’s opposition to expanding access to health care for children via SCHIP. And, it’s hard not to conclude that some Republican votes against the SCHIP program might change if faced with the intense pressure that has been put on members of Congress about No Child Reauthorization. Here’s a real chance to address out of school issues and provide a vital service for kids and yet the usual suspects have mostly clammed-up. Priorities? Telling.