House Republicans launched these four focus grouped principles: local control, empowering parents, letting teachers teach, and protecting taxpayers. The ‘platform’ has no aspirations, it doesn’t solve problems, it simply seeks to avoid offense.  It’s clear ESEA isn’t happening this year.

Hill Republicans would do well to spend an hour with Gov. Jeb Bush.  Here’s the principles his foundation focuses on:

High academic standards: High academic standards are based on the principle that all students can learn. Raising expectations for what students are required to learn in the classroom will better prepare students for success. Standards in core subjects must be raised to meet international benchmarks to ensure American students can compete with their peers around the globe.

Standardized measurement: To provide an accurate depiction of where our students are, annual standardized testing must be continued and expanded in all 50 states. Measuring whether students are learning a year’s worth of knowledge in a year’s time is essential for building on progress, rewarding success and correcting failures. To accurately measure progress, modern data and information systems should be utilized, and there must be maximum transparency across the board.

Data-driven accountability: Holding schools accountable for student achievement – measured objectively with data such as annual standardized tests and graduation rates – improves the quality of an education system. Success and learning gains no longer go unnoticed and problems are no longer ignored, resulting in efforts to effectively narrow achievement gaps.

Teacher Excellence: Study after study show the quality of teaching is paramount to student achievement. Financially rewarding educators for their expertise and their excellence will attract and retain the best and brightest to the teaching profession as well as to the greatest challenges in providing a quality education, including teaching in high-poverty and low-performing schools. Educators should be licensed, measured and compensated in diverse and flexible ways that put a premium on raising student achievement.

Outcome-based Funding & Governance: Investing in a quality education for all students is essential to our country’s economy and quality of life. How money is spent is as important as how much funding is budgeted. Funding that recognizes and rewards progress will result in rising student achievement and more efficient and productive school systems.

School choice: All students can learn, but different students need different environments to learn and flourish academically, emotionally and physically. Every family should have an array of high-quality education choices. Protecting and expanding school choice programs, including charter schools, will better meet the needs our country’s diverse student population.

Disruptive Innovation: Countries around the globe are employing cutting-edge technology to educate their students. American schools must be brought into the 21st century. It is time to embrace technology across the board – from innovative data, governance and delivery systems to digital curriculums and virtual schooling.

That’s a set of principles that could be used to rewrite state and federal education policy.

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Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is author of Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and Learn Capital and serves on the boards of 4.0 Schools, eduInnovation, Digital Learning Institute, Imagination Foundation, Charter Board Partners and Bloomboard. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.

1 COMMENT

  1. Jeb is a nice guy. But look at where Florida is after he had a good chance to change things. The current governor worked for him as education commissioner. His list is yet another repetition of the same. Honestly, does it look different from the way it did ten years ago? No, no, and no.

    It attempts a comprehensive overhaul using common sense. One of the defining characteristics of modern civilization is that advances in knowledge are often deeply counterintuitive.

    Florida has managed to maintain a solid middle of the pack performance spending less than most. Is that enviable? In the meantime, financial rewards go to schools that have selective enrollment. Schools are rewarded with high grades for having fewer special education students. You have the implicit lie – how you spend money is *more* important than how much you spend. The explicit lie – that teaching quality is paramount which fails to acknowledge the truth which is that teacher knowledge is paramount in “study after study.”

    And yet, the longitudinal testing we have (ETS) indicates students to be making progress at about the same rate they have over the last thirty years. This is borne out independently by IQ testing trends since it reflects learning gains.

    Don’t even go there with that “disruptive innovation” stuff. That’s my field. The state of Florida has no significant commitment to it. The fact is that the state is huge and has several of the nation’s largest school districts with huge special needs populations. If you look at Maine, you can see where Florida is in relation to reality. I guess to the extent Florida will get disruptive innovation, just about anything would disrupt it. A loud belch maybe.

    • Bush was by far the best edu-gov of the last decade as evidenced by FL rating in January EdWeek Quality Counts and poll position in RttT. Jeb’s evangelism for disruptive innovation was developed largely after leaving office–he’s as good on this topic as any speaker I’ve seen.
      Anyway, my central point was that the House R ‘platform’ is not a serious proposal for improvement.

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