What's Your Advice For The Next Administration?

Today’s education page in the Washington Post features a series of letters to Education Secretary nominee Arne Duncan. Reporter Valerie Strauss asked some experts -- including a university chancellor, a school superintendent, and an education professor -- to send in some suggestions for the new guy.

They gave her (and Duncan) an earful. Among their recommendations: Abolish No Child Left Behind, make pre-kindergarten universal, fully fund special education.

With the new administration on its way in, change is in the air. And most everyone has an idea of which way the wind should blow. That includes the younger set, a group Obama worked hard to include in his campaign and his vision.

Nihaar Sinha & Max Kieff, two juniors at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, are taking him up on his promise to engage youth in the political process. The cofounders of their high school consulting club have written their own letter to the incoming president, along with an economic plan they say could help turn around the tumbling economy.

"The period we are in right now, it’s revolutionary for economics," said 16-year old Nihaar. "We are re-examining everything we know...and redefining what we believe." Given the flux, he thinks a teenager could offer a helpful, less "cluttered" perspective on how to dig the country out of this hole.

Their plan zeroes in on unemployment by trimming the corporate tax rate and broadening access to health care as key ways to ease people's fears and get them shopping and investing again. The students emphasized it's a bipartisan plan: Max was a volunteer for the McCain campaign, and Nihaar was an Obama supporter. You can read the details here.

What are your ideas for the incoming president or education secretary?

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  January 11, 2009; 10:22 PM ET  | Category:  Math Education Reform
Previous: Friday Quiz! | Next: The Homework Debate


I have just finished reading today's article on Schools and Learning ( B-2) because I am interested in the Education of our country's children from Pre-School thru College. I have been retired from the Field for 17 years but have tried to stay abreast of the subject --even though my involvement had been on a military installation for over 30 years. It stuck me as rather odd that none of the advice or comments ever mentioned the added burden of testing, and recording results, for the individual teacher. Their paperwork, most of which probably has to be done on their own time, must be astronomical -- and who really benefits from that? Those tasks alone must take away from the actual time teachers have to spend TEACHING the children in order for them to learn things OTHER THAN to do well in standardized tests. How much actual knowledge will children take away from their school experience when they are being taught to make good scores on tests-- primarily in Math and Reading. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why so many competent teachers are leaving the field for less demanding jobs! It has to be frustrating for them not to have time to make teaching fun for both them AND their students. I would like to see young people who are truly interested in teaching being given the opportunity to do so.

Posted by: mlocke29 | January 12, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

This is some advice for Duncan, the possible new head of the US Dept of Educ. Do away with the No Child Left Behind Law. It has never been funded adequately to make needed changes.

Also, besides an emphasis on early childhood education, there is a huge need for an emphasis on teaching developmental reading/math to secondary students. Now there is no emphasis on helping those who need special help to read/cipher at the secondary level. If there is no emphasis there, the youngsters do not get better, and they do not stay the same, but they do regress. The disparity between black/white scores on reading/math tests is just getting wider. Half of the public school students should be secondary. We cannot give up on the needs of secondary students.

This will be costly to hire teachers and implement secondary developmental reading/math programs. But it is absolutely necessary.

Posted by: pjsmith44 | January 12, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Recently you asked people to write in offering advice to Arne Duncan. Advise : fix the mess Spellings has left behind.

Please be aware that two lawsuits have been filed against Margaret Spellings and the Department concerning the Department's failure to turn over documents (Federal district court case 2008cv0498 in Northern CA and 2008cv00498 in Hawaii, HI), academic fraud and covering for two accreditors and a school. Two student, including myself, nearly killed themselves as a result of the school's actions and in the case of the other student, Spellings was directly involved. In the very near future, two more federal cases will be filed naming Spellings, and others on her staff, including seeking up to five years for intentional misrepresentations by staffer who acted at the direction of Spellings. This case will also be written up in the Mercury news in San Jose, CA which is detailing the coverup and the cover up of a child molester who works at the school in question, has an office over a day care in a church, and across the street from an elementary. A book is nearly completed regarding these cases and the child molester.

More can be read at www.educationalfraud.com and you can call 808-756-0936.

Arne Duncan has been advised and it remains to see what he intends to do with the mess Spellings has left behind. Unless he acts quickly, he will be added to the lawsuits as a matter of course.

Posted by: ka7hvz | January 13, 2009 6:57 AM | Report abuse

To Mr. Duncan...we need to rethink our education system and who it serves. For more than 60 years we attempted to program children toward academia. The attempt failed thus far in that we still have only 20% completing college by age 25. 80% are released with a diploma that means little when we consider those who could gain a GED earlier and essentially suffer no less.

At what level are we certifying youngsters as "educated" with a GED as opposed to staying in school for a diploma? If our GED is programmed toward a 10th grade education, then lets reprogram our needs.

Students wanting to complete education to 12th grade in plans of attending college out of high school should be allowed to continue using some "application" process. Those not planning on attending college should be allowed to focus on needed information WITH a vocation plan that would better assure their success in making a living. We need to stop the madness of "one size fits all" programs.

Posted by: educ8er | January 16, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company