Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Experts Chime In: What’s Next For Federal Education Policy?

If you’re looking for insights into what’s next for federal education policy, I recommend watching the replay of a lively and insightful panel discussion held Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Here’s just a snippet from panelist Alyson Klein of Education Week’s Politics K-12 blog, explaining why President Obama is likely motivated to make higher education a priority in his second term: “If half of the youth voters had stayed home or voted for Mitt Romney, he’d be president right now.”

The other panelists were Katherine Haley from the office of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio); Rick Hess, the AEI’s resident scholar and director of education policy studies; Andy Rotherham, founding partner of Bellwether Education Partners; and Kristen Soltis Anderson, vice president of the Winston Group, a polling and consulting firm. Andrew Kelly, an AEI research fellow, served as moderator.

Rotherham, who writes the Eduwonk blog, looked at the impact of the 2012 election on education reform in his latest column for Time. Hess offered his take in his Straight Up blog for Education Week. For more from Klein, check out my Five Questions interview with her over at EdMedia Commons.

There was some consensus among the panel: Two key issues – immigration and the looming fiscal cliff — are going to take priority for  federal lawmakers in the coming months. The long-mothballed re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now nearly eight years overdue, isn’t likely to get on the fast track. In the meantime, there could be significant pressure on the feds to make sure states don’t use their No Child Left Behind Waivers to create accountability systems that shortchange minority students or unreasonably lower expectations.

When asked for a word to describes what lies ahead, Rotherham chose uncertainty.

“There are two powerful forces colliding right now, pro-reform and anti-reform … I’m not sure how that’s going to play out,” Rotherham said. “It’s uncertain if our leaders are going to rise above that or if the next four years are going to be a repeat of the last four years.”

Have a question, comment or concern for the Educated Reporter? Email EWA public editor Emily Richmond at She also tweets @EWAEmily.


Labels: Alyson Klein, choice, Eduwonk, elections, Hess, highered_reform, k12, leaders, NCLB, Obama, Politics K-12 blog, Rotherham, standards, waivers

Have a question, comment or concern for the Educated Reporter? Contact Emily Richmond. Follow her on Twitter @EWAEmily.

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