My biggest concern as we look towards the reauthorization of NCLB is that most of the existing policy talk is about fixing the problems with the law rather than moving the discussion forward on how to better educate kids. Changing the formula or the grids on AYP or expanding the use of growth models may make life more reasonable for teachers or principals (which may build greater support for the law outside of the “Washington consensus”) but it does not go to the fundamental problem of improving student learning. In a sense, to have a reauthorization that is about refining and fine-tuning an existing law is only to be expected after the tidal wave that was NCLB. But progress on achievement has been slow, and this is probably going to be the last reauthorization before the deadline comes due in 2014. If NCLB is going to work at all, this needs to be a moment for fresh thinking in terms of how best to build the schools that will achieve those goals.
What might that look like, wise guy? I have some ideas, but I don’t know yet, and I hope some of you will be inspired to help figure it out. (Shameless plug alert.) New Vision is looking to hire two people to do some work on an educational “Vision project” due out next September. Depending on what happens between now and then, and what we come up with, the project could either be geared to reauthorization or to the policy window that comes with the 2008 election. You’d brainstorm with us, and write a paper that would become part of the project. We have had some success in the past in influencing debate—one of our briefs was introduced as a bill by Senator Barack Obama—so this is a chance to get out of your cubicle and influence policy. Think tankers, independent researchers and policy experts, graduate students, post-docs, and professors urged to apply. About three hours a week (enough to yield one paper), January to September, lump sum payment commensurate with experience. E-mail resume and short note to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
— Posted by Guestblogger Jal Mehta