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For Election Analysis, Check Out Ed Week Chat and Gadfly Show

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Lots of people want answers to specific questions about the future of NCLB during today's chat on what Tuesday's election will mean for NCLB and other education issues.

I explained that the president-elect's stances on the law are vague. I could predict some things: the accountability system will morph into some sort of growth model, and that the next version of the law still will track students by various subgroups. But I have no sense of exactly what those changes will look like. I don't think anybody does.

As I responded to questions, I was listening to the Gadfly Show, where Kevin Carey of the Quick and the Ed and Mike Petrilli of Flypaper analyzed the political impact of election.

Carey agrees that Obama's education policy may look a lot like President Bush's—something first suggested by Jay Mathews of The Washington Post. "He could have run hard against No Child Left Behind, but he did not," Carey said.

Here's Petrilli's take: Obama built his own political organization so he won't be indebted to the teachers' unions. Congressional Democrats relied on the unions to pad their majority. That may mean Obama may need help from Republicans, many of whom "will be running away from that law as fast as they can" now that Bush is out of the White House.

Well said, gentleman. But the Gadfly Show just isn't the same without Checker Finn's voice in the intro music.

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I know that the Washington Consensus exists, and I know that I don't know much about how open their minds are, and I know that I'm consistently too hopeful and I consistently over-rate the role of evidence in decision-making. But I can't believe that Kevin Carey is a very good source on that issue. He is one of the few true believers that NCLB still has. I just don't understand why he doesn't read the research coming out of the Ed Sector.

Similarly, how much do we listen to predictions about a Democrat from a Republican and a gadfly? There isn't a dimes worth of difference between my position on NCLB-type accountability and Petrilli's, and there is little difference between mine and the AFT leadership. So, even if he hates unions, when he agrees with us why can't he take yes for an answer?

Like most teachers, I despise NCLB so that's why its good that we pick leaders who can represent us dispassionaetely. I'm consistently impressed with the AFT's leadership's ability to listen to the members, and work in a practical way to make compromises that will be good for teachers and students. The union leadership understands the Washington Consensus and it knows how to make deals, and I trust their judgements.

But I also know this. Members who follow the Washington Consensus are not experts and they rely of people who have assured them that there is a research-based conventional wisdom about fixing schools, so there are enough tools in the NCLB toolkit. An increasing body of research, including last week's CEP report, has shown that the conventional wisdom is wrong. Best practices that are adequate for lower poverty and magnet schools are inherently inadequate for high poverty neighborhood schools.

The conventional wisdom was adopted because it was relatively inexpensive, not because of evidence. Were the believers in the Washington Consensus being briefed by educators with practical experience or more objective social scientists, then we would have a Washington Consensus that is far more realistic.

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