Duncan’s “Principals”

The role of government in education has varied greatly in the last 30 years. Traditionally, the governmental power within education was allotted to states but with the advent of NCLB, the Feds now have tremendous power through mandated assessment and most recently, an infusion of cash to school districts which is nearly impossible to pass up but comes with major strings.

In a new video to US Principals, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan backs off a bit from previous rhetoric by stating that assessment will no longer be used as a punitive measure against schools. Clearly, this has been the major criticism from educators In addition, Duncan states that much of the federal funding for education and support will go to the lowest 5% of all schools as part of the Race To The Top. The tone in the video is compassionate and caring but Duncan is hardly comfortable in front of the camera.

These are some questions I have as we head into the summer before the 2010-11 school year:

  • What will the attention on the bottom 5% performing schools mean for the other 95%?
  • What will be the new mandates to states regarding assessment and the Common Core standards? Will this result in a federal assessment in the end? And who will pay for it?
  • How will the feds assess our schools using the growth model that Duncan discusses? Will it hearken back to the work of William Sanders, the best known proponent of the “value added” philosophy?

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