On Tuesday morning, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will address the National Press Club. Here are five questions we’d like him to answer:
- You said the outcome of the Chicago teachers strike was “great for children.” Considering that the union hindered a merit-pay proposal that would have awarded the most effective teachers and that the proposals demanded by the unions, such as step increases in pay and across-the-board pay raises—have no impact on academic achievement, just exactly how do children benefit from the union’s deal?
- The Obama Administration has pushed aggressively to implement Common Core national education standards. While the standards have been touted as a state-led reform, the Administration continues to condition federal education funding—and most recently No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers—on whether states adopt the standards. Isn’t this an overreach of the federal government into state and local authority?
- The momentum for school choice continues to increase. Support for private school choice is at an all-time high—44 percent—in the U.S, and studies show that voucher students are succeeding. Many of the children currently benefiting from school choice are those from the worst performing schools and from low-income families. Why does the Administration continue to oppose private school choice?
- The Department of Education is issuing NCLB waivers to states. You say the waivers give schools “flexibility.” But how do they give states flexibility when they come with strings attached, making states adopt the Administration’s preferred education policies in order to receive a waiver? Why doesn’t the federal government give states true flexibility with proposals such as A-PLUS, which allows states to completely opt out of NCLB?
- The federal government has been piling dollars onto the already sky-high education budget, including $100 billion in stimulus funding in 2009, a $10 billion education bailout in 2010, and now another proposed $60 billion education bailout. But despite decades of increased spending, student achievement and graduation rates have hardly budged. Instead of more spending to support the failed status quo, how about giving states greater control over their education dollars, allowing them to implement the changes they see fit to advance student learning?
American education is in dire need of reform. The Administration’s attempts to increase federal spending and control of education exacerbates the same failed track record. Rather than more failed policies, Americans deserve policies that help students succeed, and American students deserve the opportunity to receive the best education possible.