In several speeches during the last few weeks, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has continued to articulate plans for his second term with the Obama Administration. First and foremost, Secretary Duncan is committed to scaling innovations created through first-term programs like Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation (i3) grant programs. As reported by Michele McNeil in her EdWeek post “Duncan Sketches Out Second-Term Agenda” in a speech at the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Policy Forum, Duncan said, “’We came out of the gates flying’ in the first term and he plans to ‘replicate that as much as we can.’”
The Secretary has also made it clear that he will not spend time, resources, or energy on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the current iteration is known as No Child Left Behind. Included in those same remarks to CCSSO, Duncan said, “We will lead, we will help, we will push, but Congress has to want to do it.”
During his time at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s organization, Duncan “cited specifically the tough road ahead for common standards, common tests, and teacher evaluations. ‘Do we have the courage to stay the course there?’”
Speaking of teachers, Duncan seems to have a renewed interest in teacher and principal quality. He hinted at a competitive grant process aimed at promoting innovation in colleges of education. Could this be the higher education version of Race to the Top my colleague Matt Williams talked about in his post-election piece? Here’s hoping they also consider changes to our teacher education programs to ensure educators are prepared for the growing shift to competency-based education.
Whatever direction the Department decides to go in, I think it’s a safe bet that it will be going in that direction at 100 mph. Say what you will about Secretary Duncan, his department, or the Obama Administration when it comes to education but one thing you can’t say is that they’ve stood still. For more on KnowledgeWorks’ recommendations for a second term, you can check out our transition memo Recommendations for a Second Term: A Federal Transition Memorandum.
Jesse Moyer is the Director of State Advocacy and Research with KnowledgeWorks. He is a believer in public education working and passionate about family, sports and fishing.