Education Reform Comes Home: the state of the states

‘Twas the day before the State of the Union, and all through the House, not an educator was stirring, not even a teacher union louse…

We shall see tomorrow night, but this is already looking to be the Year of the Education Governor. With NCLB being pummeled from left and right and Race to the Top in suspended inanimation, the feds seem unusually quiet, if not on the run.

In an essay this morning in The Hill, Juan Williams, who is hosting a new video documentary about how Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is “risking his political life by fighting the city’s teachers’ union to improve schools,” says “there is little urgency [about education reform] in the halls of Congress.”

And New York Times education columnist Michael Winerip, also this morning, calls attention to the incredibly difficult work of figuring out how to evaluate the 175,000 teachers in New York State, 79 percent of the state’s total teacher population, who will be subject to the new RTTT-driven rules. He points out that the state education department, its budget slashed by 40 percent in the last few years, won’t be able to do much, according to state commissioner John King, except “provide guidance and models.” Concludes Winerip, “the ultimate responsibility for monitoring would be left to principals, superintendents and school boards.”

Kathleen explored the implementation challenges for the Common Core last week, remaining cautiously optimistic that “states are taking CCSS implementation seriously and that they are working to reorient their education systems to the new standards.”

The point seems to be that, ready or not, education reform is coming back to the states.

I’ve covered Andrew Cuomo’s bold moves in New York. And RiShawn Biddle is of the opinion that governors can make a difference: “No matter what happens, Cuomo is showing, as outgoing colleague Mitch Daniels has done in Indiana, that governors without direct oversight of education can actually foster and sustain reform.”

Here is a quick list of links to some of what the nation’s governors are saying about education:

  • Louisiana. Bobby Jindal is shaking things up in the Bayou State. See Biddle’s essay referenced above and his State of the State address here. (Also, here.)
  • Florida. Rick Scott called for $1 billion more in education funds in his State of the State address.
  • Kansas. Governor Sam Brownback proposed giving high schools $1,000 credit for every student who earns a technical education certificate.
  • California. In his State of the State address, former “Governor Moonbeam” Jerry Brown, facing a huge budget deficit, called for reducing standardized testing and the federal and state role in local education.
  • Wisconsin. Scott Walker proposed ed reforms focused on teacher evaluation and improving literacy skills, but his attentions may be turned to winning a recall vote.

It promises to be an exciting year.

– Peter Meyer

This post was originally published on the Fordham Institute’s Board’s Eye View

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College