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National Education Policy Initiatives
by Grayson Cooper
This year there will be two National Education Policy Center Projects. The first centers around the recent and forthcoming shifts in national education policy and will involve chapters evaluating and recommending policy measures to improve education reform efforts. The second project aims to expand and improve the quality and output of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network by developing a policy-writing curriculum that chapters can use to create Roosevelt courses at their campus.
COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION REFORM
The federal Race to the Top Fund and upcoming national education policy reforms have spurred education reform at the state level. Unfortunately, these reforms are often hasty and untested, leaving states vulnerable to serious ramifications for efforts that are ill-conceived, out of sequence, or incomplete. With the close of the Race to the Top competition this year, it is important to evaluate the efforts and take steps to maintain and further the positive progress it initiated.
In light of these significant changes to our nation’s education system, the Education Center of the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network will pursue a comprehensive education reform policy project. While the issues to be investigated are of national relevance, they will be examined first through a state lens.
Eight states with a strong Roosevelt presence have been selected as the focus for this project. Chapters working on these states’ education reforms will select area(s) of weakness in their Race to the Top applications and address these issues within each state’s individual context. These ideas will be developed into policy briefs. (For an example, please see Brown v. Board of Education 55 Years Later: North Carolina’s Charter Schools).1
The eight states are Illinois, Michigan, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Arkansas, North Carolina, and California. The issues raised by the Race to the Top Fund include State Success Factors, Standards and Assessments, Data Systems to Support Instruction, Great Teachers and Leaders, and Turning Around the Lowest Achieving Schools.2
The briefs presenting reform suggestions for individual states will then be combined with an analysis of competition and assessment, in addition to recommendations for the use of these policies in education reform. This compilation will serve as a comprehensive review of national education reform.
2For the full grading rubric, please see p.77 of the Phase 2 Application of the Race to the Top Fund, from http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase2-application.doc. Individual State Applications, Scores and Comments from Phase 1 are accessible at http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/index.html.
ROOSEVELT POLICY-WRITING COURSE IMPLEMENTATION
Based off of initiatives at Amherst College, the University of California Berkley, Middlebury College, and the University of Georgia, these courses both recruit and train new Roosevelt membership.1 Often, these courses provide members the opportunity to obtain credit hours for their work and offer leadership positions as instructors or teaching assistants. Additionally, having formal coursework established by the Roosevelt chapter helps to further establish legitimacy in the eyes of the university.
During the fall semester, the center will develop a “skeleton” course outline, including standards and a basic proposal, which can be adapted to individual chapter resources and needs. Interested chapters will provide information to help guide this process.
In the spring semester, involved chapters will complete their course curriculum by adding details relevant to their college/university to the course outline. After presenting the proposal and curriculum to their college or university, the goal is to have a course launched in the 2011-2012 school year.
1 Samples are available from http://www.rooseveltcampusnetwork.org/get-active/get-organized under Event Planning and Chapter Activities.
2 The Google Form for interested chapters is accessible at http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dDhORDRRcnlvaVhoMWp5LXZmWXlacmc6MQ