It’s a busy–and tumultuous–time in Washington.

With daily developments in the U.S. Education Department, it’s often difficult to keep pace with new education policy recommendations, staff updates, and news.

We’re here to help. Here are 7 developments, discussions, and education policy issues you might have missed:

During an AEI panel discussion on the Every Student Succeeds Act and the federal role in U.S. Education, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) shared lessons and insights learned from his 40 years in education policy:

1. The national school board is inappropriate. A small federal department of education, filled with well meaning people, simply doesn’t have the capacity to evaluate teachers, rate schools, set standards and approve tests in 100,000 schools in 50 states.

(Next page: Five more education policy developments)

2. We’ve learned, especially with the Common Core debate and teacher evaluation debate, that Washington involvement can be counter-productive and can create a backlash among those who would probably do the same thing if left alone, Alexander said.

3. Ingrained in our big, complicated country from its beginning, he continued, has been a strong preference for local control of schools, and a strong skepticism that anyone at a great distance can improve on decisions made by those closest to the children.

4. The department’s role should be that of a “cheerleader”–the “Consumer Reports” for good and bad schools. The chief role of the education secretary is an advocate for changes and improvements, and highlighting those who are innovative, and bringing them together.

5. As reported by Politico and The Huffington Post, and as mentioned during the AEI panel session, New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera was under consideration to join U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ staff, but is no longer in the running. The reason? Reportedly, some Republicans were wary of Skandera’s pro-Common Core leaning. Skandera sits on the board for the PARCC assessment.

6. School district leaders sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission requesting a reversal of the decision to suspend the Lifeline program. The program offers subsidized broadband access to low-income households, and educators have said it is critical when it comes to closing the homework gap and making sure students have reliable internet access after school.

7. DeVos has an overall disapproval rating of 52.3 percent, according to a nonpartisan survey of some of President Donald Trump’s high-level appointments. The survey was conducted by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute.

Laura Ascione
About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura