Jan Resseger explains the continued failure of federal education policy. 

Growing inequality, poverty, and segregation, especially in urban districts, were addressed by a strategy of testing and choice. At the same time, many states cut spending on education. The strategy had no bearing on the underlying problems.

We now know what doesn’t work: standards, testing, accountability, and choice. Portfolio districts, turnarounds, State takeovers, school closings. These policies, vigorously advocated by Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan,  George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and the entire phalanx of so-called “reformers,” have failed. Budget cuts made matters worse.

She writes, in a thoughtful post:

“Bill Mathis and Kevin Welner summarize the way our society responded when, despite widening inequality and growing economic and racial segregation, federal law imposed sanctions and turnarounds on urban public schools: “As policy makers and the courts abandoned desegregation efforts and wealth moved from cities to the suburbs, most of the nation’s major cities developed communities of concentrated poverty, and policy makers gave the school districts serving those cities the task of overcoming the opportunity gaps created by that poverty. Moreover districts were asked to do this with greatly inadequate funding. The nation’s highest poverty school districts receive ten percent lower funding per student while districts serving children of color receive 15 percent less. This approach, of relying on under-resourced urban districts to remedy larger societal inequities, has consistently failed. In response, equity-focused reformers have called for a comprehensive redirection of policy and a serious attempt to address concentrated poverty as a vital companion to school reform. But this would require a major and sustained investment. Avoiding such a commitment, a different approach has therefore been offered: change the governance structure of urban school districts. Proposals such as ‘mayoral control,’ ‘portfolio districts,’ and ‘recovery’ districts (also referred to as ‘takeover’ or ‘achievement’ districts) all fit within this line of attack.” (“The ‘Portfolio’ Approach to School District Governance,” a brief that is part of a 2016 series from the National Education Policy Center, Research-Based Options for Education Policymaking)”

Right now, we must hope that a few members of Congress pay attention and act.

Failing that, we must rely on teachers across the nation to continue to walk out, strike, act in concert, demand increases in investment in education, and an end to failed federal policies.