There’s an old saying in consulting that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast; in other words, you have to build the infrastructure of support in order to create profound change. I think that applies to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The law should have been amended several times since 2001–we’re way overdue, no question about that. But I’m not sure there’s support for the new framework the Department of Education is seeking including human capital effectiveness, strong accountability, and public school choice.

The world will be different a year from now: 20 states will be well into Race to the Top implementation, hundreds of i3 grantees will be hard at work, the Common Core will adopted and new assessments will be in development.

Perhaps folks in the White House see ESEA as an easy win–I doubt it.  I’m afraid that, compared to health care, it will be a different version of stupid.  The left and right will unite in a strange bedfellows ‘local control’ coalition.  There’s just not a big constituency for strong accountability including  closing and replacing bad schools and ending protection of ineffective teachers.

Rep. George Miller knows what changes need to be made and understands congress better than I do.  I suspect he’ll do the right thing and tap the breaks.

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Tom Vander Ark is author of Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, The Power of Place, Better Together, Smart Parents, Smart Cities and Getting Smart. He is co-founder of Getting Smart and serves on the boards of Education Board Partners, 4.0 Schools, Digital Learning Institute, Latinx Education Collaborative, Mastery Transcript Consortium and eduInnovation. Follow Tom on Twitter, @tvanderark.


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