"The Romney plan offers no insight into what the federal government does and does not do well when it comes to education. Romney can do better... Education is ripe for conservatives." – Frederick M. Hess and Andrew P. Kelly, "A Federal Education Agenda," National Affairs
With less than 50 days away from the presidential election, and in light of the recent Chicago Teacher’s Strike, "education is ripe for conservatives." Historically, conservatives have ceded the work of reform to progressives, who embrace sweeping national solutions and evince a disconcerting faith in the wisdom of federal bureaucracies. In a National Affairs article, American Enterprise Institute (AEI) education experts Frederick M. Hess and Andrew P. Kelly offer conservatives a principled, coherent approach to education that is in keeping with the federalist system the framers envisioned.
Hess and Kelly lay out four pillars of federal education policy that can be easily articulated in a crucial election year--by Governor Romney or anyone who is committed to showing that conservatives are credible on the issue of education.
A conservative federal government should:
- Develop standard weights and measures, requiring that state testing data be uniformly collected and reported. This ensures consistency and transparency for parents, voters, and policymakers.
- Promote high-quality basic research by adopting a similar approach to the National Institutes for Health. This would require the federal government to shift away from funding federal programs that studies specialized interventions and practices and toward the broader public good of basic research, which asks the fundamental questions about learning.
- Deregulate school systems, leaving space for new education providers to compete with already entrenched teachers unions, colleges of education, and school bureaucracies. This would allow for more--and more meaningful--opportunities for students and parents, therefore promoting school choice alternatives to the current education "cartels.
- Adopt bankruptcy-like mechanisms similar to private-sector enterprise, which lift the burden of bad contract provisions, outdated regulations, and related minutiae that impedes reform-minded state and local leaders while consuming their time and resources.
Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI, where Andrew Kelly is a research fellow. They can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org – 202-862-5904.
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