State Leadership Matters

With ESEA reauthorization stalled, National Journal suggests that local collaboration is all that will matter in 2011.  If the goal is more college and career ready students, the variable that will make the biggest difference is state leadership (not local).

For 15 years, states have been aggregating control over the major levers: standards, assessment, data, and finances.  Like it or not, good or bad, states are now the most important players in American education.  And online learning is reinforcing that.
The expansion of and potential for online learning suggests statewide solutions.  The Internet doesn’t respect district boundaries but many states still limit learning options by district.
To guide state policy makers, former governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise chaired a policy development process resulting in Digital Learning Now, 10 recommendations for state policy makers.
As Gov Wise pointed out in The Online Learning Imperative, it’s impossible to solve the achievement gap, teaching gap, and financial gap without incorporating online learning into state and local plans.
Here’s three policy goals for states to work on–they could make education better and less expensive: 1) All students have access to at least several online schools on a full or part time basis; 2) Funding should follow the student to the course level with incentives for achievement, completion, and innovation; and 3) Students should progress when they demonstrate competence not when they get a year older.
States need to attack gaps for schools to make progress in 2011.

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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