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The More Things Change…

Education Week has the first interview I’ve seen with the new Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings. It’s centered around No Child Left Behind, of course, and her attitude basically boils down to "we can talk, but don’t expect much change" – at least in terms of testing. The Department seems willing to compromise with states on the provisions of the law which require a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom.

No surprise there. The feds simply want to avoid the most difficult and expensive part of education reform, which is training and retaining good teachers. Instead they will concentrate on the easy stuff – testing kids and imposing penalties. Now that they’ve forced non-stop testing on grades 3 – 8, it’s time to move onto the high schools.

“Basically, we believe that the same sound principles that undergird No Child Left Behind in grades 3-8 ought to be extended in the high schools,” the secretary said, “and that includes regular measurement and reporting that data in a disaggregated way.”

The only problem with that statement, Madame Secretary, is that there are very few "sound principles" undergirding this ill conceived one-size-fits-all train wreck of a law. And please don’t use “I just got here.” as your excuse for not answering hard questions. You were pulling the strings from the White House for four years.

The More Things Change…

Powell is going. Ashcroft is going. Paige is going. A whole bunch of other cabinet officials you’ve never heard of are going. It won’t make any difference. Their replacements will have different faces but it’s pretty clear by now that no one works for this administration unless they agree to recite the talking points in unison. W doesn’t want to hear different opinions. He wants to hear his opinion.

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