<< The Body Politic

Education 2012

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Last week, AEI hosted a panel discussion to talk about “What the Election year Will Mean for Education Policy.” As the event summary notes, “the panel touched on a number of key education issues in this election year, ranging from the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act to the impact of the Obama administration’s reform agenda to the president’s State of the Union vision for containing college tuition prices and raising the high school dropout age to 18.”

One major question, fostered by [Rick] Hess and Andrew Kelly’s recent volume Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from a Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s Schools was, “What can the federal government do well when it comes to education reform, and which issues are best left to state and local government and individuals?” According to Peter Cunningham of the U.S. Department of Education, the federal government is at its best when promoting transparency around data issues and using the bully pulpit and incentives, all with an eye to driving state and local actors. Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform agreed, emphasizing that a renewed focus on dataover the past decade has “changed the conversation and allowed all sorts of different coalitions to form . . . in terms of getting things done on the ground.”

David Winston of the Winston Group, however, was quick to point out that for any federal action in school reform to matter to the public, it has to be connected to the economy and jobs, a conclusion echoed by the rest of the panel and one that is good for policymakers to bear in mind as they prepare for the upcoming elections.

As we’ve noted before, a focus on the economy doesn’t have to mean bad news for civics education–and in fact it should mean just the opposite.

AEI