Eleven years ago, I moved to Washington, D.C. to work on education. The liberal think tank that hired me focused on state issues, so I had nothing to do with the project that was consuming D.C. wonks at the time: a once-a-decade reauthorization of the mammoth federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act that would become the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
How the GOP’s New Education Policy Embraces the Market and Abandons Objective Standards
July 09, 2012
We all got a good laugh at the recent befuddlement (reported at TNR by Amy Sullivan) of a conservative Republican legislator from Louisiana who withdrew her support from Gov. Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program when she realized that its open door to public support for religious schools was not limited to those catering to Christians. But the underlying principle of Jindal’s initiative—and arguably of Mitt Romney’s little-discussed proposal to convert the bulk of federal K-12 education dollars into vouchers—is no laughing matter.
Romney's Anti-Bush Education Policies
May 25, 2012
Convention requires presidential candidates to issue policy statements on all major policy areas. So while Mitt Romney’s election strategy centers on exploiting the weak economy, on Wednesday he checked the “education” box. But while the candidate’s mind may be focused on other things, Romney’s speech, and the corresponding white paper, deserve attention. Romney chose to frame his education agenda as a critique of President Obama and teachers unions, but it’s actually something much more interesting: an extended argument with George W. Bush.
Guest post by Thomas Toch Some school reformers said it would never happen. But after spending nearly two decades launching thousands of charter schools to challenge traditional public school systems, the Teach for America generation of social entrepreneurs who poured out of the nation’s best colleges bent on transforming urban education are now moving into leadership positions in the very school systems they sought to replace. Not surprisingly, they’re working hard to introduce a new performance-driven brand of public schooling into often-dysfunctional government bureaucracies.
When Representative Paul Ryan released his proposed federal budget for 2013, among the first provisions to attract the attention of critics was its choice not to renew the current interest rate of loans for low-income college students.
By the time the police arrived with the pepper spray, sending throngs of college students choking to the ground, it was clear that Santa Monica College’s plan to raise tuition had gone badly awry. Days earlier, the trustees of the 31,000-student community college had announced a novel strategy for dealing with the state of California’s latest round of punishing budget cuts. It would open up new sections of perpetually over-subscribed courses like English and Math—but only to students willing to pay four times the standard price.
Last month, I toured Washington D.C.’s Edward C. Mazique Parent Child Center, one of 1,600 low-income preschool providers funded by the federal Head Start program. At lunchtime, well-behaved four- and five-year-olds dutifully served each other apples, cucumbers, and noodle soup. Elsewhere, a more mischievous group rolled on the floor while a teacher patiently tried to read aloud. Everything I saw suggested happy students, clean classrooms, and engaged teachers. Indeed, Mazique has become something of a poster child for Head Start.
The Higher Education Monopoly is Crumbling As We Speak
March 13, 2012
In the last years of the nineteenth century, Charles Dow created an index of 12 leading industrial companies. Almost none of them exist today. While General Electric remains an industrial giant, the U.S. Leather Company, American Cotton Oil, and others have long since disappeared into bankruptcy or consolidation. Today, the Dow Jones includes giant corporations that hadn’t even been created when Ronald Reagan first sat in the Oval Office.
The False Promise of the New York City Teacher Evaluations
March 06, 2012
[Guest post by Simon van Zuylen-Wood] On February 16th, New York state officials agreed on a new teacher evaluation system that will use student standardized test scores to help determine teacher tenure and dismissals. The previous model, in which 97 percent of New York City teachers were deemed “satisfactory,” was based solely on classroom observations. While the deal signals an important compromise between Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has pushed for more teacher accountability, and the state teachers union, the real news came a week later.
Santorum and the Idiocy of Home Schooling
March 03, 2012
No sooner had Mitt Romney triumphed in the Michigan primary than Rick Santorum edged into his victory by succeeding in winning an equal number of delegates. Romney polled 3 percent higher than Santorum in the popular vote. But that meant nothing in the arcana of counting at the polls that will be translated into 15 delegates each at the Tampa convention in August.