Repeat: Federal Education Data Freeze Is No Reason for You (or Wonks) to Panic

I have some ideas of what to blog about. In fact, you can probably count on more fresh and insightful commentary tomorrow. But with the initial shock of the partial government shutdown, this young and sometimes naive edublogger is trying to keep composure and not panic.

But I think the situation might even be worse for policy wonks like my friends in the Education Policy Center. Try heading over to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics to download the latest spending and enrollment data, or to run research queries on state NAEP scores, and this is what you encounter:

For the older set who may need their reading glasses, here is what the message says: Due to a lapse of appropriations and the partial shutdown of the Federal Government, the systems that host have been shut down. Services will be restored as soon as a continuing resolution to provide funding has been enacted.

Guess all that U.S. Department of Education data collection and reporting represents a non-essential government service, huh? Without a federal employee or contractor watching over it, apparently the NCES website will crash into cyber-oblivion at a moment’s notice.

Not as dramatic or inspiring as aging military vets on a special visit to D.C. breaking through the barricades to see the World War II Memorial. (If the government is shut down, why do they have to pay police officers to stand guard over a national monument?)

Even so, the online education data freeze seems to pose a painful challenge for some. It was pretty disturbing to find a senior education policy analyst collapsed on the floor, breathing into a paper bag, wondering what to do next. I’m going to have to help him break out of this spell, this clear overreaction.

But that doesn’t have to slow you down. While we collect ourselves here, please check out the new paper Douglas County: Building a Better Education Model; learn all you can about Amendment 66, the billion dollar tax increase on Colorado’s fall ballot; and see if you can’t come to a very neat Brown Bag Lunch event this Friday.

Maybe the government slowdown (not shutdown) gives you some extra time to read, or even to come find out why the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to deprive low-income Louisiana students of educational opportunities. Though maybe the budget impasse in Washington D.C. will impede their harmful bureaucratic designs on poor families.

Cheer up, there’s no need to panic after all.