"Will President Obama's School Reform Bring the Change Kids Need?"

Things are changing in Washington, DC, and my friends in the Education Policy Center are wondering what the new presidential administration will mean for school reform. That’s why they agreed to publish a paper by a really smart group of people – three professors from the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

The new paper is called The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Will President Obama’s School Reform Bring the Change Kids Need? (PDF). The authors are Robert Maranto, Gary Ritter, and Sandra Stotsky. You really need to read this paper if you care about education and the future of America.

As a candidate, Barack Obama gave a lot of different messages about education reform. The authors of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly sort out the different competing proposals, and encourage the President-elect to “appoint a Democratic reformer who embraces the good, opposes the bad, and avoids the ugly, to serve as the nation’s next Secretary of Education.”

The Fordham Institute’s Education Gadfly has its ears to the Beltway grapevine, running a daily line to see who the favorites are to fill the Cabinet-level post. The latest entry has Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan as the continuing frontrunner, with New York schools chancellor Joel Klein in second, and various Democratic pols like Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus, and North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley in contention.

As for me, I’d like to see someone like Washington DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee in the job – someone who is no-nonsense about fixing the system to work for kids, no matter what the adult lobbying groups may think.

Who knows who it will be, though? I just hope that the paper from our friends at the University of Arkansas is at least a little bit persuasive.