Saturday, July 28, 2012

Spellings, Alexander Debate Future of No Child Left Behind Act

This from Politics K-12:
Back in 2001, when Congress was first considering the No Child Left Behind Act, former-U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., were on more-or-less the same page when it came to a strong, federally driven accountability system.
But since then, Alexander (who served as President George H.W. Bush's secretary of education) and the Republican party have been moving farther and farther away from the idea of a federally driven accountability system. Spellings, meanwhile, has stayed true to the law she once compared to "Ivory Soap—it's 99.9 percent pure." UPDATE: To be clear, Alexander wasn't in the Senate at the time NCLB passed, but in the early 2000s he was very positive about the NCLB law, and supported a bill that would have left its accountability system largely intact.

Can these two find common ground? That's what the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank in Washington with long-standing relationships with both Alexander and Spellings, tried to figure out today. If you're an edu-politics nerd, you should absolutely check out the video [below].

The upshot? No big consensus on where the GOP should go when it comes to ed policy—but there was some very interesting back-and-forth.
Both Spellings and Alexander said they generally like the Obama administration's overall strategy of offering states competitive grants in exchange for embracing certain reform priorities. And they are both pretty down on the Title II program, which gives grants to states and districts to improve teacher quality. They both think it's a huge waste of federal resources.

But Alexander strongly supports the nearly $300 million Teacher Incentive Fund, which offers grants to districts to create pay-for-performance programs. It got started under Spellings, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has sought to expand it....
The whole event was, of course, total Twitter catnip. For you non-Twitter-savvy folks, Fordham has a great tweet-wrap on its website. Or you can search the hash-tag #NCLB10 to read some of the back-and-forth.

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