President Obama and leading Republicans are all looking for ways to foster economic opportunity and tackle pressing social challenges, even as annual non-defense spending is on track to amount to the smallest share of the economy in a half century. While some of us rejoice and others wince at that trend, we can all agree that this means a smart Washington should be shifting funds away from programs that don't work and into ones that do.


I awoke with a start last night. Hovering above the floor, inches from the bed, was a figure. He wore a nice suit and avidly thumbed his iPhone, before glancing up at me.


Last week, the College Board excitedly unveiled its revamped SAT. I found myself unwowed, despite the adoring coverage. Now, I'm not particularly opposed to the changes, and I don't have any huge objections. But I am really puzzled that so much commentary seems to take the College Board's self-serving claims and promises at face value. Why my doubts? Here are five reasons.


Hey, folks, so I've got an interesting opportunity to announce as we leave this snow behind and head into the spring season. I just had an unexpected opening emerge, creating a rare and potentially very cool opportunity for a new research assistant to join my AEI edu-team.


At an Al Shanker Institute forum a few weeks back, at the AFT's DC headquarters, I aggressively defended the good intentions and fair-mindedness of foundation staff working on education (you can see the event here). I offered my own criticisms, but I mostly told an audience very skeptical of Gates/Walton/Broad/et al. that the people I know at these foundations are smart, well-intentioned, and entirely willing to hear and benefit from criticism, so long as it's offered up constructively and in a spirit of mutual respect. The problem, I said, was how rarely skeptics reached out in that ...


You may have noticed that I took last month off from RHSU to work on my new book, The Cage-Busting Teacher--which I'm due to deliver to Harvard Education Press later this year. (Although, given the enthusiasm for our February guest stars, you may have noticed and thought, "Sweet.") In any event, I'm back. And, it seemed to me a shame that Mike Ditka has gone back into hibernation, because February seemed pocked by developments that called for his trademark, "C'mon, man!"


This week, I've looked at an important effort to increase our schools' capacity for digital learning: E-Rate reform. A modernized E-Rate won't be complete without the FCC providing for proper accountability and oversight. While we should hold the program accountable for the dollars it distributes, has the President set our expectations for a new E-Rate too high?


While policymakers, education policy wonks, and education leaders are trying to have smart conversations about school infrastructure--something they'll have to do more often in the digital age, regardless of E-Rate--it seems rather important they can keep these terms straight.


The FCC needs to acquire better information on service pricing and applicant spending, and assess whether and how to share those data. Publishing this information would be an invaluable vehicle for accountability and third-party research and analysis. And a more transparent E-Rate market could lower prices and allow funds to stretch further. Here are three changes the FCC may consider in its effort to improve transparency of E-Rate spending.


But, dull as it can be, the digital learning conversation has to start with capacity. The movement's success relies as much on fiber and IT departments as flashier concepts like personalization and blended learning.


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Follow This Blog

Advertisement

Most Viewed on Education Week

Categories

Archives

Recent Comments