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  • Ben Goldhirsh

    Nikhil, how much authority does the secretary have over how school districts manage their budgets? I was under the impression that race to the top was a way to motivate activity given the lack of efficacy existing. What would you envision Ken Robinson or Joichi doing if they had the post - does the role have the powers to do this? Anyhow, curious to hear your thoughts on the structure as well as the individuals. thanks.

    • Nikhil Goyal

      The secretary doesn't have much authority over individual school districts' budgets. Education is still somewhat local in this country. We have school boards for example.

      Race to the Top spurred a competition among states that forced them to adopt Arne Duncan's policies in exchange for millions of dollars. These policies included changing teacher evaluations so that salaries would be linked to scores, adding assessments for preschoolers, college and career readiness standards, and some others. We've already seen studies that confirm it would cost states millions of dollars to implement these structures. Here's one article: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2012/jul/12/school-district-race-top-money-not-worth-effort/

      We should be giving funds to schools that are in disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities, not creating an artificial competition.

      I believe they would begin by pushing Congress to repeal No Child Left Behind, abolishing Race to the Top, and allowing for the stakeholders in education to craft national guidelines. Ito, known for advancing an anti-disciplinary approach to learning at the M.I.T. Media Lab, would foster and push for a paradigm shift in schooling. He would treat cities and communities as school. I would believe that Ken Robinson as well as Ito would jumpstart a national conversation on creativity and the definition of "good education."

      • Ben Goldhirsh

        Thanks, Nikhil, I'm forwarding this on to Joichi to see if he wants to add his thoughts directly.

        • Nikhil Goyal

          Sure thing. I interviewing Joichi Ito for my book. He's doing some remarkable work.

          And just clarifying: My previous statements regarding Ito and Robinson represent my perspective, not any of their official statements, on what I would predict they would do if either one was Secretary of Education. The predictions are my inferences from their comments and actions in education.

  • Adam Hoffman

    I believe you hit on the real problem here and that is poverty. With such a struggling ecomony, the real challenge is to help people get out of poverty. Students will naturally do better in school, and parents will be more engaged when they're not worrying about where their next meal is comming from.