Although education was not the most salient issue of the 2012 US election season, a panel of education experts unveiled the issue's growing significance at an AEI event on Thursday. AEI's own Andrew Kelly began by asking what America's largely status-quo election results mean for education.
Panelists agreed that Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett's defeat was the most surprising outcome for education. AEI's Rick Hess noted that the incumbent Republican's loss is a foreboding trend on the national education horizon, one that indicates both union strength and a frustration with the highly partisan nature of the Common Core State Standards.
Panelists expressed a less-unified response to the next four years of education policy. Kristen Soltis of the Winston Group emphasized that the Obama administration must shift public opinion about education policies such as teacher pay, teacher evaluation, the Common Core, and class sizes to make progress in education reform and improve student outcomes.
Andy Rotherham of Bellwether Education Partners predicted that both Republicans and Democrats will experience increasing intra-party opposition regarding education reforms. This is hugely problematic for the president and hinders policymakers' ability to effectively reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Despite the increasing importance of education among voters, it remains to be seen which education reforms will prevail over the course of the next four years.
--Lauren Blair Aronson and Chelsea Straus
Over the past four years, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have touted a more expansive federal role in education, offering states waivers from No Child Left Behind Act sanctions and championing common standards, more rigorous teacher evaluation, higher education transparency and aggressive interventions for low-performing schools. During a time of tight budgets and fierce debates over the Common Core State Standards, student loans, gainful employment and reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the results of the federal and congressional elections will likely have a huge impact on the state of American schools and colleges moving forward.
Join us at AEI for a balanced discussion of what the 2012 election results will mean for the potential reauthorization of the ESEA, federal education spending, state and local issues and other pressing concerns.