Exchanges with Deborah Meier, “Bridging Differences”

Eric A. Hanushek
Published Date
February-March 2013
Education Week
February 26 to March 26, 2013
Over a five week period in early 2013, there were a series of exchanges with Deborah Meier about accountability, testing, personnel evaluation, and salaries. The sequence of posts is provided here, along with a link to the responses by Deborah Meier. February 26, 2013Is It 2007 Yet? While many states had already introduced some form of test-based accountability by 2001, NCLB made this mandatory for all states and introduced a very specific structure to accountability that importantly included consequences for schools that did not perform well. I always viewed this as an experiment representing the best guesses of President George Bush and the U.S. Congress about how to improve national educational performance. As with any one thousand page guess, I also thought the idea of revisiting the law in 2007, the date designated for its re-authorization, was an important part of the underlying wisdom of the act. March 05, 2013National Standards, Local Control Our prior discussion of the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act leads me to see important agreement even if described as disagreement, but I also see some talking past each other, and I finally see some fundamental differences. Let me begin with a very important point of agreement. Local decisionmaking on how to provide education is essential, and it is foolhardy to interject top-down management of how schools hire staff, structure educational programs, and monitor what goes on. The intrusion of state and, worse, federal proclamations about how everybody in the school and classroom should perform has little hope of improving our schools. March 12, 2013A Realistic Approach to Better Testing Whenever there is any discussion of accountability, there is always an overhang of issues of testing and the use of tests. Testing clearly falls into the knee-jerk reaction zone, but I'm hoping not to inspire such reactions. Instead I want to lay out a simple idea of how to deal with a number of the current problems and objections in order to see if you agree with it. March 19, 2013Evaluations Are Better Than No Evaluations In our conversations about accountability, we have skirted around the issue that I think drives the most heated debate—namely, that accountability involves evaluation of teachers and administrators. And teachers and administrators are "agin it," period. Can't we pare through some of the smoke and move the discussion forward to a better place? March 26, 2013Can't We Pay Our Best Teachers More? I am always struck by two competing arguments—frequently made by the same people—that teachers are not motivated by money and that a major problem with American schools is that the salaries are too low to attract top people in teaching. On the surface, these arguments seem to be inconsistent, and perhaps we can try to sort through them.