Breakthrough Goes to Washington – Last week I had the opportunity to testify before the US House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce.
That is always an honor, made more so this time by the presence of friends (to me and to school choice) Tony Bennet, the Indiana Commissioner of Education, Andrew Coulson of CATO, and Ted Mitchell of New Schools Venture Fund.
As is usually the case these days where education is being seriously considered, it was hard to predict political party from answers.
All of us basically gave testimony in some version of “Let excellent choices emerge.”
Which was added to by a secondary message “Please don’t do this from DC…seek advice from the schools, leaders, and organizations who have discovered how to solve the education crisis for their students what they need…and give them what they need.”
Only scary moment was when a question came about how best to create one teacher evaluation method in the ESEA law that “everybody” could buy into.
I tried to suggest that “everybody” was better off deciding that in their own school…and that even “local control” has lost any local flavor and is now all about national group control. It’s a tough slog to get people focused on allowing teachers to create excellence.
But there seemed to be good support for the new realities.
Chairman Kline is a known school choice advocate, and Representative Miller advised his colleagues to bear in mind the significant changes brought about not only by a decade of new data, but the advent of new school choices and technologies unheard of in 2001.
The question will be whether there is willpower to resist the national organizations whose power is weakened by this new face of American education.
They like one solution for “everybody”, because they have been the biggest, richest “somebody” in the room.
Gives you a big voice.
So…it matters a great deal now that those of us who believe in the power of choice and innovation make our own voices heard, and provide timely and useful information to leaders of Congress and State Houses.
Which is why the Breakthrough network helps enormously.
Make sure you, your colleagues and all of the innovative, succesful schools and groups you know are partners there…that’s a great way to help policy advocates find the solution they are looking for.
Otherwise, they may believe there is no answer… and that they need to make one up.