What Should Congressional Republicans Do?


Now that Congressional Republicans have majorities in the House and the Senate, they may put forth some education bills.

Given that Obama can veto whatever they might put forth, they might want some advice from someone who leans left but supports some of their education agenda. And per the image above, maybe this will get me on Jimmy Fallon.

So here goes – with the major caveat that I’m not an expert in either federal education policy or Congressional politics. But hopefully the below can spark some thinking…

Conservative Guiding Principles

I’m assuming that they anything you all put forth will:

1. Attempt to reduce the operational role of government in public schooling.

2. Not micromanage states.

3. Not increase the amount of money the federal government spends.

A Couple More Guiding Principles To Consider

1. Put forth some bills that have chance of passing. I understand the need for some symbolic stuff, but it would be nice to get a couple bills enacted.

2. Be open to the federal intervention in breaking local monopolies. Given how our education system is structured, sometimes it takes action at one level of government to break the monopoly of a lower level of government.

3. Put forth bills that actually will affect a lot of students. Programs such as the DC voucher program are important, but fighting this type of battle expends a lot of political capital for an issue that only affects a small amount of students.

Legislative Proposals

1. Overhaul Title II. A somewhat ungenerous but partially true take of Title II is that it is a 3 billion slush fund for ineffective professional development. So, first, cut the total outlay by 25%. I don’t think any students will notice. This frees up about $800 million. Thoughts on how to spend that below. Second, re-regulate Title II to require that money only be spent on teacher and school leader preparation programs that achieve results. We have some idea what works here, and these programs can be measured at scale. We have no idea what works in educator development, and it’s very hard to measure, so cut all funding to development programs. Outside of that, let the federal department of education figure out how to implement the program. Anymore and you’ll look like you’re micromanaging.

2. Triple the Amount of the Charter Bill. Get the Senate to pass a charter bill (the House already passed it). But to take advantage of this moment in time: triple the amount of money that the House committed. Instead of $300M fund the bill at $900M.

3. Double the Investing in Innovation Program, Add a New Category for Governance, and Push New Funding to States. Double i3 from $250M to $500M but push the $250M to states on a formula based on state population. Let the states control what innovations will improve education in their communities. Also, require the federal department of education to add a new category for innovations in governance, which can be used for innovations in how public education is structured (charters, vouchers, course choice, tax credits, etc). We need much more innovation here – and this type of innovation will support much of your overall agenda.

Good luck.

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