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Spellings Starts NCLB '08 Tour

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Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings traveled to Florida yesterday to celebrate NCLB's 6th anniversary. While there, she promised to be on the road shilling for the law throughout 2008.

"In the upcoming months, I'll be visiting as many states as I can to discuss how we can continue to work together and move ahead with what is, in my opinion, our nation's most important business—ensuring that every student receives a quality education," she said in written testimony prepared for a committee hearing in the state capitol.

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In her three years as secretary, Spellings has become the chief spokeswoman for the law. Yesterday's testimony is a good summary of her arguments for the law.

But Spellings has taken her message and persona to other forums, such as "Jeopardy!" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," which I detail in a profile in the current issue of Education Week.

The people I talked to said Spellings is effective at communicating her thorough understanding of education policy to a variety of people, whether they're Capitol Hill aides, state legislators, or talk show hosts.

But is her celebrity status helpful? Here's one anecdote that didn't make the story. A colleague reported that at a New Year's Eve party, Margaret Spellings' name came up. The discussion quickly turned to the variety of eyeglasses she wears (what Joe Williams calls "sexy librarian glasses") and speculation about the costs. (See examples, right.) That shows how well-educated, well-informed people (one of whom is an education policy wonk) think of her.

In the end, does that aid her advocacy for NCLB and other education policies? Maybe her celebrity status means people don't take her message seriously. Or maybe her message never would have gotten through if not for her celebrity appearances.

BONUS LINK: Click here to watch Spellings' appearance on the "Daily Show."


3 Comments

I believe it is unfortunate that we live in the 21st century and local communities do not have the leverage to demand that local education agencies adhere to their local, state, and federal codes of ethics and teach all of the children. Additionally, it only makes sense that the more federal dollars a system receives to educate the poor, disabled, and miniorties the more checks and balances that need to be in place to ensure that the billions of dollars are effective in the education process.

About the eyeglasses thing...Could we please stop commenting on the physical appearance and accessories of women in the political arena? Unless, of course, we begin doing the same for their male counterparts? Maybe we should stay with the issue of whether politicians are blurring the line between entertainment and government.

Or maybe outside of at most a few thousand people who care, she's actually not a celebrity at all.

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