This Week’s TIME School Of Thought: Is Education Bipartisanship Always Good?

Bipartisanship seems to be breaking out on education again. Last Friday’s White House event to formally launch the administration’s waiver strategy was lousy with Republican governors and state education chiefs saying that while they disagree with the administration on a lot of things they love the new flexibility.  This week in New York I helped Brian Williams with NBC’s Townhall with governors as part of Education Nation and asked Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (about minute 0.59)- head of the RGA – about all this talk about dismantling education.*  He spoke up for state and local control but also talked about partnerships and declined to endorse the anti-Department of Education language we’re hearing on the campaign trail from the GOP candidates.  So that’s great right?

Well not so fast, and that’s the issue I look at in this week’s TIME School of Thought column:

A new consensus is emerging in education politics. But can the center hold? And would reformers even want it to? Bipartisanship is supposed to be a good thing — except for when Republicans and Democrats come together to try to paper over our education problems. That’s what worries me about the recent string of seemingly positive events.

One thing I am partisan about is the need for a vigorous and reliable media in our country.  You can do your part to support that by clicking here and reading the entire column over at TIME’s site. It’s got Senator Lamar Alexander’s NCLB bill, waivers, ESEA rumors, and the disconnect between what states say excellence is and what it actually is.

*I also asked Maryland’s Martin O’Malley – head of the DGA – about why more Democratic governors aren’t working with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, given his pretty successful education record there? And I asked governors of both parties about why when we talk about a 21st Century education system all the time we still are content with a 19th Century approach to funding it – via a heavy reliance on localized property wealth?  You can see all that on the video above starting about minute 59.

4 Replies to “This Week’s TIME School Of Thought: Is Education Bipartisanship Always Good?”

  1. Yes, a consensus has emerged, but your article ignored it. Aside from a handful of “reformers” who are invested in their failed old data-driven accountability regimes, and anti-teacher, anti-union people like Walker and Bush, we know that standardized test-driven “reform” has failed.

  2. NCLB’s reliance on dysfunctional standards and standardized testing applied with the use of draconian punishments, along with all of the pseudo reforms imposed since the publication of “A Nation At Risk”, have reduced education to the production of unthinking automatons. Learning opportunities have been eliminated entirely in pursuit of narcissistic rewards and ever higher (and meaningless) scores.

    View Ken Robinson’s videos at, read Peter Drucker on moving “From Teaching to Learning” and study Seymour Sarason AND THEN begin to reflect on Education in America. (Forget the reform bit)

    If you want some to support effective learning read :The Fourth Way” by Hargreaves based on the thirty year “Education Change Over Time” study from the same author, go to to understand the terrible damage standardized testing does to our youth and our teachers and take the time to be an actual teachers aid in an eighth grade classroom for a full day.

    We must stop doing things right (efficient) and begin to do the right things (effective).

    The federal government has an important role – to encourage innovation, creativity and imagination in support of life long learning. The States (AKA the general public) have the responsibility to insure that all local school systems have the infrastructure to support our childrens’ free and unencumbered access to knowledge.

    Across this nation the better off have infrastructure but their access to knowledge is constrained by things like NCLB and legislative dictates. The poor are denied infrastructure and access to knowledge – and their ranks grow daily.

    Get the legislatures (Federal and State) out of the classroom and let the teachers teach and learn and grow. If they do by default children will. News flash for academic professionals and politicians – our species is born with incredible learning abilities – your meddling diminishes that natural ability. Proof? Just watch the behaviors of elementary. middle and high school students leaving the building at the end of the day!

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