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Opinion: How to remake the Education Department


I have recently argued that the U.S. Department of Education has become — and perhaps has been since it was formed in the late 1970s — a centralized authority that has undermined, rather than enhanced, public education, says Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education at The University of Georgia, for the Washington Post. My observations centered on the problem that the top-down policy flow from Washington D.C. to the 50 states has resulted in failures like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. These policies impose a standardized assessment system designed to produce uniform instruction on the nation’s diverse school systems. Because policies and politics are interrelated, additional problems follow from the collusion among textbook publishers, policy think tanks, and politicians. This relationship limits the development of instruction and assessment to a small set of highly connected players, such as McGraw Hill and its lucrative relationship with the Bush family…

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