Two Former U.S. Secretaries of Education to Discuss GOP Vision
Two former U.S. Secretaries of Education will debate the Republican Party’s stance on education issues this Thursday, July 26 at an event titled, Is the GOP moving forward, backward, or sideways on education? Former ‘Bush 43’ Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings will debate former ‘Bush 41’ Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander on what GOP education policy should be moving forward.
More than ten years after the landmark legislation No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was enacted, a robust debate has emerged about the successes and failures of the law and what role, if any, should the federal government have in setting national education policy.
On the one hand, Secretary Spellings, who was a chief architect of the law, believes in strong federal accountability and is concerned that the 33 states that received waivers from the Department of Education will not do the right thing. Secretary Spellings has said, “States have previously sought waivers to mask the underachievement in their schools and push off confronting needed changes. The proof will be in whether any states that receive waivers are held to the promises they make. Their track record to date is not promising.”
On the other hand, Secretary (now Senator) Alexander is a critic of NCLB and supports a limited federal role in education, believing states and local communities are in the best position to make the right decisions for its schools. He recently said, “Unfortunately, this plan [NCLB] inserted too many Washington rules and regulations into matters that should have been left to communities, parents, and classroom teachers… The federal government can set broad goals, but the Secretary of Education should not become a national school board chairman instructing 100,000 public schools how to achieve those goals or deciding whether each of those schools and its teachers are succeeding or failing.”
So, what is the stance of the GOP around education issues? Can the GOP come together to support a unifying vision for education moving forward? I am not sure we will get definitive answers to these questions, but Thursday’s discussion promises to be a lively one between two well-respected Republican players in education.
To learn more or to register for the event, please visit the Thomas Fordham Institute website.
Cecilia Retelle is Senior Director of Policy for ICW.
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