Special Interest Crickets

I mentioned yesterday that the administration’s K-12 ed policy is pretty reactive these days. Here’s Ed Week and Andy Smarick about that, for instance. The zigging and zagging on waiver policy is hard to keep straight although the arc bends towards less and less accountability. But when you step back it’s sort of stunning that in the fall of a school year the administration is still trying to figure out what student assessment policy will look like in the spring. That’s frustrating for school administrators and teachers as well as state officials because it’s hard to plan when everything is a jump ball. Thinking back to the 1990s, or even the early part of the last decade, education interest groups would have been up in arms about a situation like this and getting some response. But largely they’re not.

Why?  Three plausible suspects:

Is is that the groups are a lot weaker now than they were two decades ago?

Is everyone so used to the fluidity that it’s just seen as normal now?

Are people becoming addicted to the flexibility so no one wants to rock the boat too much?

All of those to some extent? Or is it something else?  Ideas?

4 Replies to “Special Interest Crickets”

  1. Education “reformers” have become afraid of pushing anything in the permanent campaign our politicians and political parties are giving us. The known weaknesses are preferable to the unknown risks or real damage to the agenda. The losers in this not irrational response to irrational governance: students and teachers.

    Solution: time for everyone to get a reality check. Let’s turn to teachers and their students to shape the path toward scholarship in the classroom, accountability for adults and opportunity for all students.

  2. Elizabeth your last paragraph is the right answer but the reform powers will never let it happen. Rotherham and his status quo allies have builtt a whole shadow industry wherein ed rubberneckers and opinionaters can make paper by spouting half baked ideas and getting pols to implement them and see if they work. Spoiler: they never do, but it’s no skin off Andy’s nose. He can just pivot to the next beltway fad and sell the newest airy compound. This isn’t ed reform. It’s ed charlatanism.

  3. I don’t entirely agree Jake. I do think the policy conversation is incredibly insular as the usual suspect travel around the country talking to each other. BUT, I do think there are many, many folks rolling up their sleeves and working on the ground to test some of these research-driven ideas about how to KNOW if we are achieving effective teaching and learning in our public school classrooms. The problems of implementation are so numerous that we often don’t exercise the patience to see things through. And, the education change agents have an admirable passion/urgency of purpose.

    I don’t deny there’s ideology at play but I think in education policy it’s far less than skeptics & extremists wish. We in the pragmatic middle need to start to give the extremists and their silly name-calling less attention and pay more attention to the professionals on the front lines. By doing so, we can get the change that is necessary to support effective teaching and equip all American children with the tools they need for today’s connected world & volatile economy.

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