Go Slow to Go Fast (Why ESEA Should Wait)

There's an old saying in business that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast; in other words, you have to build the infrastructure of support in order to create profound change. I think that applies to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

The law should have been amended several times since 2001 -- we're way overdue, no question about that. But I'm not sure there's support for the new framework the Department of Education is seeking including improved measurement, human capital effectiveness, strong accountability, and public school choice.

Perhaps the White House sees ESEA as an easy win -- I doubt it. I'm afraid that, compared to health care, it will just be a different version of stupid. The left and right will unite in a strange bedfellows 'local control' coalition. There's just not a big constituency for strong accountability including closing and replacing bad schools and ending protection of ineffective teachers.

The world will be different a year from now: 20 states will be well into Race to the Top implementation, hundreds of i3 grantees will be hard at work, the Common Core will have been adopted and new assessments will be in development. The Department has the biggest boldest grant program in history. They should let it reshape the landscape before attempting to adjust the law that will frame the next decade.

Rep. George Miller knows what changes need to be made and understands congress better than I do. I suspect he'll do the right thing and tap the breaks.