When it comes to education policy, leave it to the teachers - not to the politicians

When it comes to education policy, leave it to the teachers - not to the politicians

(iStock) When the elections finally arrived in November, I inspected the Gallup poll below the top 12 of the campaign. Fortunately, education was not there. Writers who do their best to focus on important aspects of our country – foreign affairs, the economy, health care, immigration – can be happy to see their favorite topic at or near the top of that list. Not me. I think education policy is too important and too fragile to get involved in national politics. There have been years when voters said that schools would have a big effect on how they marked their ballot paper, but they did not mean it. At the end of 1999, the Washington Post-ABC News opinion poll said education was "very important" to more voters than any other topic in the national elections of 2000. But it did not affect that vote in an observable way. Republican George W. Bush promoted what his No-school education plan was and his opponent, Al Gore, had similar ideas. Both parties in Congress helped Bush's plan to become law. This year, education was discussed in the races of some governors. In Georgia, the two candidates differed on how they could offer more scholarships. But voters were focused on Medicaid and jobs. Nationally, according to Gallup, the three biggest problems were health, economy and immigration. In the few cases where school issues have become hot in recent years, the discussion has little to do with increasing students' performance. In the 2016 presidential race, the Common Core State Standards were discussed, but the main argument against them was that they distorted decision-making by the state. In his book 'Children as Pawns: The Politics of Educational Reform & # 39; from the University of Massachusetts, historian Timothy A. Hacsi, showed that elected officials pay little attention to educational research and instead go with everything that seems to be their basis. What politicians say about the tree stump and offering as legislation comes more from "ideology, fear of raising taxes, bureaucratic inertia, class and racial conflicts" than what has been shown to work in classrooms, Hacsi said. President Trump seldom mentions schools. His five direct predecessors, presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were interested in the subject. But they generally agreed that the federal government should raise school standards and require testing to ensure that students learn. In 2015, both parties in Congress supported a new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act. It has given back much of the power to reform schools to the states. It was a sign of twofold exhaustion of the controversial No Child Left Behind era. Because national legislators are traditionally reluctant to push hard for higher performance, school districts go on to pursue their own ideas. Local school administrators, who have the power to make changes, usually campaign on the basis of their credentials instead of on plans to help children learn. That can be a blessing, because some of the most productive recent educational changes, such as the growth of demanding charter schools and the opening of higher-level college courses for more high school students, have been the work of energetic teachers, not politicians. There are many other intriguing ideas. The new book by Cinque Henderson, "Sit Down and Shut Up: How to make Discipline students free", offers an intriguing reason to improve students' behavior. Many teachers insist on more online learning at home, on vocational training linked to real jobs and on the possibility of obtaining community college degrees and college degrees at the same time. Some big political battles about schools raged this year. The race to become head of state in California cost more than $ 43 million. But as my colleague Valerie Strauss pointed out, both candidates were Democrats and the job they are fighting for did not have control over the policy of state policy. I would like to leave the school's reforms as much as possible to teachers. They do their best if their ideas are not affected by political ads or the campaign folders that are now being collected and discarded.

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