Last week, I argued that the education-policy field has reached a state of homeostasis, “characterized by clearer and fairer but lighter touch accountability systems; the incremental growth of school choice options for families; but no appetite for big and bold new initiatives.”
You’ve seen plenty of comments and speculations on what last week’s election means for K–12 education (or will mean if they ever finish counting the ballots and filing lawsuits.) But not until this week did you see the conclusion by my friend Jay Mathews that education should be left to the teachers and the politicians should butt out.
In spring 2016, Oklahoma adopted new math and English language arts (ELA) standards after making the decision drop the Common Core. In doing so, it was well within its rights. But Oklahoma also has a responsibility to make sure its standards are strong, clear and rigorous. For ELA, the state has accomplished this. But for math, it fell short.
In political debates on education, it's often argued that state officials should defer decision-making authority to districts in the name of local control. Yet this potentially empowers school employees far more than the families of children served by those schools.
On Dec. 1, 2017, the Missouri State Board of Education went into a closed session and ousted Commissioner Margie Vandeven. Yet that wasn’t the only controversial decision that day. In a unanimous vote, the board decided to classify the Normandy Schools Collaborative as provisionally accredited. That move meant that thousands of students lost the right to transfer to higher-performing schools. Now it seems that vote was made without all of the facts.
It is increasingly common to hear public statements downplaying the results of student tests. Such was the widespread reaction after the annual release of the highly reliable National Assessment of Educational Progress test scores in April, often called the "nation's report card."
The K–12 Education Task Force focuses on education policy as it relates to government provision and oversight versus private solutions (both within and outside the public school system) that stress choice, accountability, and transparency.