It’s been a great run on Eduwonk. Thank you, Andy, for giving me a place to crash between jobs. In a few paragraphs I’m going to tell you where I’m going next — and, I hope, put at ease those readers who have been gently e-mailing me job postings. But first I want to squeeze a few last juices from my soapbox.
On the education front we keep talking about divisions, helpfully categorized by the two manifestos recently put out. As I indicated earlier, I think the central question has been unfortunately lost in the shuffle. Performance pay is interesting, but it is just one thing. The demographics debate is important, but it does not immediately answer the question of what to do next. Finally, the schools vs. schools-plus debate: that seems to me to have limited importance, too.
The real battleground as I see it is accountability. How can the president — not to mention school district leaders and state officials — push all schools to improve? Have the muscular, test-based policies of No Child Left Behind worked? Has New York City’s report card system worked? At the classroom level, does data-driven instruction work? If not, how can it work better, and if so, how can it be improved?
On this question the two camps have some sharp disagreements, with Broader, Bolder signers and conveners arguing for a substantial overhaul of what we have now — one that they say would preserve “aggressive” policing but broaden the categories for what defines failing schools — while Education Equality Project leaders want something that looks more similar to No Child Left Behind, with more modest tweaks. Some have suggested that only their camp really believes in accountability; I don’t buy that. In conversations with the leaders of both sides I hear detailed ideas about what kind of accountability system to have, not whether to have one, and I believe both sides honestly want to improve public schools.
The job confronting the next president is to figure out a plan everyone can agree on, and a plan that will work. Everyone can and should have a part in this conversation. Fortunately, that includes me! This week I am joining the new reported education news site GothamSchools, where along with two talented education reporters, Philissa Cramer and Kelly Vaughan, I will continue my effort to sort out the edu-universe here in New York City. It’ll be kind of like the Elizabeth Green dispatches you may have read in the New York Sun, just on the Internet only and, partially, in blog form.
Please become a reader and please stay in touch! My new e-mail is egreen-at-gothamschools-dot-org.
~ Guest blogger Elizabeth Green