Arne Duncan is supposed to find common ground between System Defenders, traditionalists who want more money and no accountability, and the Army of the Potomac, who want to hold schools accountable for results, write Checker Finn and Mike Petrilli on Education Gadfly. Local Controllers who “want Uncle Sam to butt out of education policy — but to keep sending money,” are Republicans, and probably ignorable.
Is there another way? Gadfly advocates “Reform Realism.”
We embrace standards, assessment, and accountability; we believe that America’s achievement gaps are morally unacceptable, socially divisive, and politically unsustainable; and we recognize that for the U.S. to remain secure and prosperous in a dangerous, shrinking and flattening world, our education system must become far more effective.
But as Arne Duncan has learned in Chicago, we also believe that federal action too often yields unintended and undesirable consequences. Uncle Sam would be wise to adopt medicine’s maxim of “first do no harm.”
The feds would set common standards and tests, while the states would handle accountability for schools that don’t do well.
Update: National standards isn’t a realistic goal, says Matthew Ladner. And he says it in Pig Latin!