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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 03/ 5/2011

Pearls of wisdom from the Education Department

By Valerie Strauss

In the “D-for duh” category, here is some of the advice that the Education Department spent time putting together as guidance just issued to governors on how to wisely spend federal money during these financially troubled times.

The guidance is entitled “Smart Ideas to Increase Educational Productivity and Student Achievement.”

“Educational productivity?” That, apparently, means doing more with less, a financial situation that Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls "The New Normal." And how do we do this? The guidance begins with a section entitled “Begin With Basic Principles.”

Here are the basic principles:

*Put student outcomes first.

*Invest in what works, not what doesn’t.

*Share ideas and learn from success.

*Work collaboratively with stakeholders.

Helpful, hu?

The second section is called “First, Do No Harm” and it suggests:

*Avoid short-sighted cost-cutting. In the explanation of this, it says: “Even in an era of tight budgets, cutting back in a manner that damages educational quality and hurts children is the wrong thing to do.” [boldface in the original text]

*Protect the neediest children and communities.

The advice in later sections gets more specific and adheres closely to the Obama administration’s education reform line: link teachers pay to students standardized test scores, close bad schools, etc.

But really, who’s going to read past the line about hurting children being the wrong thing to do? It sounds like it was written for children.


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By Valerie Strauss  | March 5, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Educational leadership  | Tags:  arne duncan, ed department guidance, education budgets, education department, education secretary duncan, educational investments, educational productivity, guidance for governors, student outcomes  
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Next: Why Bill Gates is wrong on class size


I'm not sure I understand... under these guidelines, I don't know how to used evidence-based research of best practices about what's best for children.

I suppose I'll just keep doing what I'm doing, then. The union will protect me.

I particularly enjoy the teacher pay-test score connection.

Posted by: speakingofeducation | March 5, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

"Work collaboratively with stakeholders." Hmm, might those be PARENTS, the ones who actually have skin in the game?

Posted by: mcnyc | March 5, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

The threat of 800 million Chinese that understand calculus is real. America must speed up it`s slow thinkers or become third world.

Posted by: morristhewise | March 5, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Do Chinese students really understand calculus? Or have they been taught to recognize when to use memorized formulas?

Don't forget, Asian officials are constantly studying our schools to see how we manage to turn out creative students who can develop new procedures and products.

I got through two years of high school algebra by memorizing formulas and using whatever one seemed to work. I understood so little that one year I persisted in reducing 16/19! (And, as I suspect a lot of students do, on standardized, multiple-choice tests, I simply tried each choice until I found one that sounded reasonable to me.)

Posted by: sideswiththekids | March 6, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"The threat of 800 million Chinese"

I don't think there are that many Chinese who have taken calculus, or are even going to school long enough to take it.

Not all Chinese children attend school.

Posted by: jlp19 | March 6, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

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