Sunday, November 14, 2004

More on Spellings and Kress

I've dug around and found a few very interesting exchanges involving Margaret Spellings and Sandy Kress-- one of the two will probably be named Secretary of Education tomorrow or early this week.

First of all, Shari of, has listed several interesting Spellings links, including a Business Week article about her from 2001 and a map of the West Wing showing that Spellings has a corner office and Rove doesn't. It certainly doesn't mean she's more important than Rove (she isn't), but it probably does mean that her importance to Bush is greater than most realize and that the Prez might not want her to leave for the Education Dept., which would make Kress's chances to be named Education Secretary even greater.

Here's a link to an interesting exchange early in 2001 between Andrew Rotherham (who posts each weekday on and works for the DLC and Progressive Policy Institute's 21st Century Schools Project) and Margaret La Montagne (now Spellings) on the Merrow Report. (You have to scroll down to page 17 for the conversation.)

And here's a link to Kress's speech to EduStat, a conference hosted by SchoolNet, a company that analyzes test data for school districts.

From Kress's speech earlier this year:

I guess what I’m here to say fundamentally on this subject is that, for those of you who are intimidated or threatened by No Child Left Behind, the world is actually going to become worse as we go along. I mean to say, “more demanding”. And it will look back at No Child Left Behind as kind of just an initial foot in the water, if you will, to the world we’re about to enter. We’re simply going to have to raise standards higher, we’re going to have to know more, we’re going to have to know it more quickly...

More, more, more. And this is interesting from Spellings' comments on the Merrow Report in 2001:

[T]he big idea here is this accountability and that there has to be an end of the line. And what happens when kids are trapped in failing schools... But, you know, there's a lot of talk on Capitol Hill about, about that. I do think people need to answer the question, what are we going to do about failing schools? The second thing I want to talk about, coupled with this strong, robust accountability system is this notion for more flexibility for states and local school districts. More autonomy, more freedom to manage resources as, you know, the accountability system is the quid pro quo for
additional authority over federal dollars.

This is very interesting since now, three years later, these are still the big questions. What do we do with the failing schools? Turn them over to private, possibly religious, groups to run-- or for-profit companies? And what about flexibility? As I've posted before, flexibility seems to be the albatross afflicting this Act. Everyone -- including Republicans -- seems to be complaining about the Act's inflexibility.

So Spellings' comments beg a question: Why weren't these problems given more thought in 2001, when the Act was written?


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