Senator Bennet’s Plan to Turbocharge Education R&D

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Event Summary
“If we don’t do things differently, our classrooms will look the same in 20 years as they do now,” warned Senator Michael Bennet (D. Colo.) during a discussion on Wednesday at AEI about his proposal for a new education research and development (R&D) project. While nearly every other sector in the economy devotes 10 to 20 percent of its budget to R&D, only 0.2 percent of the federal education budget is allocated to research and development. Sen. Bennet proposed his Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education (ARPA-ED) as a way to align the interests of school districts and technology strategists to individualize instruction. Jim Shelton of the U.S. Department of Education pointed out how closely the federal government’s investment in education R&D is tied to America’s competitive advantage. Drawing from his experience at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Ken Gabriel urged those in the education space to consider what ARPA-ED must do to enact the same fundamental changes in education as DARPA has had on defense. He stressed the importance of a sense of urgency and focus on R&D as a way to ensure the efficacy of an ARPA-ED. John Easton of the Institute of Education Sciences agreed that there is a need for increased R&D in education, but cautioned against overpromising: ARPA-ED should not be seen as a silver bullet, but should be considered in the larger context of current education research efforts.

Event Description
Education innovation has a bad reputation, and deservedly so. Most heralded "innovations" in education prove neither innovative nor educational. Much of the blame is due to the dismal state of research and development (R&D) in education. One notable effort to upend the status quo has been put forward by Senator (and former Denver superintendent of schools) Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who has called for the formation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Education. Drawing inspiration from the famed Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), credited with nurturing breakthroughs including the Internet and ballistic missile defense, Bennet proposes to create a similar agency focused on education. Join us for a discussion with Senator Bennet; John Easton, commissioner of the Institute of Education Sciences; and Ken Gabriel, deputy director of DARPA; and Jim Shelton, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement at the U.S. Department of Education.

 

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About the Author

 

Frederick M.
Hess
  • An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include "Cage-Busting Leadership," "Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age," "The Same Thing Over and Over," "Education Unbound," "Common Sense School Reform," "Revolution at the Margins," and "Spinning Wheels." He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, "Rick Hess Straight Up." Hess's work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind.  Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review boards for the Broad Prize in Urban Education and the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum, from Harvard University.


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