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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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Creative Non-Compliance

I usually like this term. It means we might as well bend some rules, if the need justifies it, and normally, this term is associated with good deeds. But, Secretary Arne Duncan’s attempt to start creatively non-complying with NCLB may not be about good deeds, as much as he suggests it is. Throughout the weekend, news reports screamed that Duncan will be granting waivers to a law carefully and painfully put in place to guard against the kind of data abuses and lack of transparency that plagued the nation prior to NCLB’s enactment.

Sure, NCLB is not perfect, and Congress and the past president made lots of mistakes. But the fact is that without NCLB, we simply don’t have a clue how schools or students are performing. We can argue some bars are lower and some higher, that some schools that get labeled do so unfairly. For the most part, however, it works. It shines sun on the dirty little secret of even the best schools that neglect their neediest students. And it captured our attention and put the establishment on the defensive. Most important, it gave parents a tool to use as a lever for change. (more…)

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