How Obama Can Spark An Education Revolution
So much for another American century.
But there's one fascinating bright spot, which Barack Obama can use to spark a low-cost revolution. Massachusetts and Minnesota, who've led the way in adopting rigorous standards, arranged to get themselves measured independently from the U.S., and these two states performed on a par with the best in the world. They're the only states with the guts to have had their schools broken out separately. You see where I'm heading. As a condition of receiving their federal funding, Obama should require all states to agree to have their results broken out in TIMMS (and also to participate in another respected international comparative study known as PISA). The feds can pony up the modest costs associated with this. It's a perfect fit with Obama's money-for-reform theme. "If we're going to invest more in education," he can say, "we need to know how we're doing. That's just common sense."
Why do this? The idea would be to assure periodic but regular headlines across the country like, "Alabama Schools Rated Worse Than Uganda's," or "California Trails Uzbekhistan Again In Math And Science." Polls show today that most people think the education system is a mess, but that their own schools are fine. They're wrong to be complacent, and with this little step Obama could go a long way to provoke the reality-based uproar we need. I'm hoping my favorite Eduwonk, Andy Rotherham, who has the ear of the transition team (and who would make a great senior DOE appointment), gets this into the mix asap.