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Short "Short list" for Romney Education Secretary

Editor’s note: EdWeek’s Alyson Klein reports from the first of the two convention sites, and offers some early insights into the field for who might be considered Romney’s education secretary. But as CER president Jeanne Allen comments, the current “short” list is, well, short:

Very provocative, Alyson. I’d venture to say, however, that most of those you mentioned know they have more power to effect real education reform right where they are. Arne Duncan’s philosophy of change lies in the notion that government can wield change in education, while the Govs and state chiefs you mention actually believe people, locally, if given authority, can wield that change — at the parent and school level first and foremost. Duncan’s defiance of statutory law in favor of giving waivers puts power back in the hands of school districts (which is government) whereas those you mention all have pushed power to parents and individual schools. There’s another problem in the quarterbacking on Ed Secretary or even the candidate’s positions that everyone is doing…much of the commentary is based on the notion that running the US Education Department can actually improve education. As we’ve often said, the last few years have seen a flurry of federal activity, but little real accumulation of snow. The progress that has been made from DC to Indiana to Florida and throughout the nation has been a result of strong Governors, strong legislators and strong grassroots momentum for change. That Secretary Duncan’s reign has thrown positive energy their way at times is politically astute — and ancillary. The only viable candidate who has already helped accomplish historic reforms and whose whose own Governor will soon be in another position is Indiana’s Tony Bennett, but whether he’d want to slay the goliath in DC over future higher state office is

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A Paige In History

Coverage of Candidate Romney’s education plan received varying reviews. His agenda aside, newspapers also reported that Romney appointed an advisory team which included former Education Secretary Rod Paige. Yet rather than tell the readers something about Paige’s past accomplishments, the only thing numerous newspapers felt worthy to use as a descriptor is that Paige once called the NEA a “terrorist organization.”

Let’s start with the fact that he did so because during his tenure iN Washington, the NEA held hostage any legislator who didn’t agree with their viewpoints. This is not new for the leading labor union in the country, which politicians fear as they run for office. But those facts aside, the Post reported that “Romney’s Education Policy Advisory Committee includes several prominent opponents of teacher’s unions, including Paige, who as secretary of education in 2004 labeled the National Education Association a “terrorist organization.” No context. Zip. The AP story from which the Post clearly drew had the same.

Paige’s career as Houston TX superintendent is well regarded to this day, as is his tenure as the leader of a dramatic, bi-partisan reform plan that took shape amidst a 9/11 world. He’s an author, a contributor to numerous education efforts and a man worthy of much more than one phrase to describe his tenure.

All corners of the political spectrum should call on the press, bloggers included, to save the drama for the Style section and focus on the big ideas espoused by both candidates that will shape the outcomes in every classroom for every school-age student nationwide.

–Jeanne Allen, Founder and President of the Center for Education Reform


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