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The Focus of Federal Education Policy

The federal government should focus on what it can do well and the four functions it alone can perform, according to an op-ed in today’s New York Times. In their piece “How to Rescue Education Reform” Frederick M. Hess and Linda Darling-Hammond say these functions are:

  1. Encourage transparency for school performance and spending.
  2. Ensure that basic constitutional protections are respected.
  3. Support basic research.
  4. Offer voluntary, competitive federal grants that support innovation.

The federal government can make states, localities and schools do things — but not necessarily do them well. Since decades of research make it clear that what matters for evaluating employees or turning around schools is how well you do it — rather than whether you do it a certain way — it’s not surprising that well-intentioned demands for “bold” federal action on school improvement have a history of misfiring. They stifle problem-solving, encourage bureaucratic blame avoidance and often do more harm than good.

Read the complete article here. What are your thoughts?

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