ESEA + ARRA = Big Lever

I spent most of the last 48 hours thinking about ESEA and ARRA.  If NCLB is any precedent, we can assume that new and improved ESEA will frame most of the next decade.  ARRA is a potent package of grants reflecting a core theory of change: common standards, measurement, strong accountability, and public school choice.  Together, they are enormously important shaping devices for the future of American education and, in turn, the economy for decades to come.  There will be monumental opposition to changes suggested by both, but I’m optimistic that support can be mobilized to do this right.
Assuming there’s some truth to this, I guess we’re headed for an ‘early’ reauthorization. NCLB should have been modified two or three times by now, so it’s way over due.  But I still think it should wait for another year to let ARRA reshape the landscape.  By the State of the Union when the modified ESEA frame is likely to be introduced, we’ll only have a handful of RttT proposals.  A year from now, we’ll be through another leg session and there will be dozens of states with improved ed codes.  A year from now, there will be hundreds of i3 grantees hard at work.  A year from now there will be thousands of school improvement efforts underway.
Going fast has some advantages but it’s also riskier.  The Department and the small handful of congressional leaders that know and care about how this comes down will need help and fast from the edreform community.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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