Closer to Agreement Than Division on DeVos

By Karen Nussle, Executive Director, Conservative Leaders for Education

Yesterday, Shane Vander Hart, editor of the influential Caffeinated Thoughts website responded to advice that Conservative Leaders for Education offered up to incoming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on how to shrink the Federal role in local education.

First, I’m delighted that we agree on 3 of the 5 points our state leaders offered up! My old boss, Speaker Newt Gingrich, taught me to always start with the common ground. And I believe that there is plenty of that here. Additionally, we would also love to hear more from Mr. Vander Hart and his readers on how conservative state and local leaders can best implement the things we all agree on.  And if there are other ideas he may have to re-establish state and local leadership in education that we did not raise, I know our members would love to hear those.

On the things where Mr. Vander Hart disagreed with us, I believe we are actually closer to agreement than not.  Our members are hopeful that a Sec. DeVos will stand up for high academic standards and not allow the teachers unions and weak education bureaucrats to hide behind low expectations. We don’t want any Federal intervention or incentives on standards – in fact the new ESSA law prohibits that.  But there is much she could do with her vast communications platform to highlight who has courage and who is not doing right by kids.

On data, I think we are on the same page. We believe it is a conservative idea for academic data to inform instruction, be used to figure out what is working or not working for each individual child and to hold schools and educators accountable for student progress. As parents we use many data points to determine if our kids are on track in many aspects of their lives. Schools should do the same and be transparent with parents. Again, the Department can shine the light on districts, schools and educators that are doing this well.