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"What's Your Plan For Making This Happen?"

Blog_blah_blah_blah The big problem in education reform right now isn't that there aren't any good ideas out there about what to do to make things better, but that no one has any real idea how to get them moving. 

Take any number of interesting proposals -- national standards, weighted student funding, differential pay, community schools, inter-district choice, universal preschool -- and what you'll see are lots of arguments and policy specifics but no real plan for getting any of these things implemented in the real world.  (You know, enacted into law.  Paid for.) 

Advocacy only gets you so far.  Electing more Democrats in November will create as many problems as it solves.    Eventually, you have to figure out how to shape an idea into something that can make it through the gauntlet.  For starters, begin asking people:  "What's your plan for making this happen?"


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I recommend that all change agents read Influencer: The Power to Change Anything. I just had a veteran high school principal say it's the best book he's ever read...!

On the national level, any newly elected President can have the following deal in relatively short order:

Something closer to the accountability provision in NCLB I than the the House Education Committees Democrats last stab at a proposal, for something closer to the funding levels the Democrats expected before they lost Congress than what was actually appropriated under Bush. Congress will throw in whatever "pet rock" k-12 program a new President might like.

Sen. Kennedy offered as much, and assuming he is ambulatory, I believe he could still deliver: http://archive.edbizbuzz.com/blog/_archives/2007/3/30/2846463.html

Making that paper deal work on the ground requires operational competence at the Department of Education. Whoever becomes President, this challenge is almost insurmountable. The K-12 education lineup for both parties is deep when it comes to policy, advocacy, communications, politics and ideology, and light on implementation, analysis, logistics, management and pragmatism. I don't think the Democrats who would lead and staff the department, have the will to do what's necessary to maintain meaningful standards and accountability. I worry that Republicans will continue to substitute the words "free market" for the leadership and staff capacity to manage development of the high quality supply side that public education requires.

On the ground, in the trenches, I can think of two areas where people on the pointy tip of the policy spear have walked their talk: The new philanthropy with CMOs and Michelle Ree in DC. I happen to think the first has chosen the wrong objective, and disagree vociferously with the second's choice of means, but I have no doubt that they committed themselves to make something happen, and have followed through with the sweat equity to make it happen. Regardless of whether I agree with their ends or their means, I think they have offered a template for making change happen worthy of study and emulation.

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