November 30 2012

Innovation at Risk

Vicki E. Alger

A number of federal programs intended to improve innovation in education are actually stymied by other federal regulations that encourage the status quo, according to the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). A recent report authors Raegan Miller and Robin Lake explain:

The federal government should be doing all it can to promote technology-driven innovation for our school children. Instead, federal policy stands in the way of innovation, both actively and passively. (PDF, p. 1)

Heavy compliance burdens associated with the largest federal education programs accounting for nearly 70 percent of all federal elementary and secondary education spending, with Tile I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, do little if anything to ensure high-quality teachers are in students’ classrooms.

Instead, blanket compliance requirements that “comparable” teachers are dispersed throughout schools actually reinforce traditional salary schedules that pay teachers based on “inputs” such as time served, certificates, and advanced degrees—not “outputs” like how well students do in school.

It’s worth considering whether it’s worth keeping federal involvement in education if mandates—well-intentioned or not—are going to block local efforts at improvement.

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