As Congress considers reauthorizing/replacing the ever-controversial No Child Left Behind law (see http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/19/us/politics/education-proposal-in-house-could-replace-no-child-act.html?emc=tnt&tntemail0=y), I find myself thinking about what role the federal government should play in education. The bill currently before the House is "dividing legislators along party lines." This worries me. I don't think education should be the kind of partisan, black-or-white issue that should invariably divide people into opposing camps. Republicans want to make sure that control is vested in the states and local school districts and to minimize the "footprint" of the federal government; Democrats think that if the federal government is not involved in providing funding, setting standards and benchmarks, and holding states accountable, progress will not be achieved. There is value in both positions. Neither position by itself is a solution for student academic success. Yes, standards and benchmarks are important, as is funding. Yes, state and local officials are probably in a better position to determine what's needed locally.
I'm not saying I have the final solution here. I'll get back to you with my proposal later. But it just seems like, before we can get anywhere on this issue, people need to accept that there's a gray area in which compromise needs to take place. But about the solution... If you have any creative, non-partisan ideas about how the federal government and state/local officials should interact with each other on the issue of academic achievement and excellence, please email me your thoughts at email@example.com.