Congress Backslides on School Reform
Here's DFER Chairman Kevin Chavous with a powerful op ed in yesterday's WSJ:
A funny thing happened on the way to reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the sweeping school-reform law better known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB): The debate over reauthorization has spawned a political alliance between the tea party and the teachers unions. These strange bedfellows have teamed up to push for turning teacher-evaluation standards over to the states—in other words, to turn back the clock on educational accountability.
On the right are tea party activists who want the federal government out of everything, including establishing teacher standards. On the left are teachers unions who bridle at the notion of anyone establishing enforceable teacher standards. And in the middle is another generation of American kids who are falling further and further behind their European and Asian counterparts.
…To begin fixing this, all of the current law's language regarding teacher accountability should be reintroduced into Enzi-Harkin. In addition, the reauthorization bill could buttress the "parent trigger" efforts that allow parents in several states to forcibly transform failing schools through petition drives.
But in an election year, it seems unlikely that Congress or the White House will exert the necessary effort. Instead, Washington's expedient right-left alliance will guarantee one thing: Schools can continue to fail our children—particularly our poorest and most vulnerable children—with impunity. Last month, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten stated how "glad" she was that her union had found "common cause" with Republicans. If this is what bipartisanship looks like, we're better off with gridlock.
- NOVEMBER 15, 2011