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Left Out of No Child Left Behind Teach for Americas Outsized Influence on Alternative Certification 145912598416

Left Out of No Child Left Behind Teach for Americas Outsized Influence on Alternative Certification 145912598416

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Published by: Peter C. Cook on Oct 31, 2012
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Future of American Education Project
Left Out of No Child Left Behind:
Teach for America’s Outsized Influenceon Alternative Certification
By Alexander Russo
October 2012
The Future of American Education Working Paper Series is edited and overseen by Frederick M. Hess, director of educa-tion policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. Papers in this series focusing on higher education topics are editedby Andrew P. Kelly, research fellow for education policy studies. The series, which is part of the Future of American Educa-tion Project, is a publishing platform for original scholarship in all areas of education reform. It includes contributions fromuniversity-based academics as well as on-the-ground school reformers and entrepreneurs. The views and opinions expressedin this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the American Enterprise Institute.Scholars interested in submitting to the working paper series should contact Daniel Lautzenheiser for additional infor-mation, at daniel.lautzenheiser@aei.org or 202.862.5843.
Previous Publications in the Future of American Education Paper Series:
The Successful Failure of ED in ’08
by Alexander Russo
Facilities Financing: Monetizing Education’s Untapped Resource
by Himanshu Kothari
Linking Costs and Postsecondary Degrees: Key Issues for Policymakers
by Nate Johnson
Opportunities for Efficiency and Innovation: A Primer on How to Cut College Costs
by Vance H. Fried
Something Has Got to Change: Rethinking Special Education
by Nate Levenson
Shifting Risk to Create Opportunity: A Role for Performance Guarantees in Education
by Bryan Hassel and Daniela Doyle
The Attrition Tradition in American Higher Education: Connecting Past and Present
by John R. Thelin
“But the Pension Fund Was Just Sitting There…”: The Politics of Teacher Retirement Plans
by Frederick M. Hess and Juliet P. Squire
“Diverse Providers” in Action: Lessons Learned from School Restructuring in Hawaii
by Frederick M. Hess and Juliet P. Squire
Private Capital and Public Education: Toward Quality at Scale
by Tom Vander Ark
Professors on the Production Line, Students on Their Own
by Mark Bauerlein
Success at Scale in Charter Schooling
by Steven F. Wilson
Education Policy, Academic Research, and Public Opinion
by William G. Howell
ne of the intriguing developments of the pastcouple years has been the emergence of a newschool of reform advocacy groups committed to driv-ing policy change. This is a healthy development, assuch policy changes are essential to rethinking andredesigning American schooling for the challengesand opportunities of a new era. For decades, would-be education reformers have struggled with thevagaries of the policy process. Those involved intoday’s efforts can, and should, learn from these pre-cursors. One of the best-known and most relevant of those is Teach for America, which endured a trial byfire as it found its way into the policy sphere.In “Left Out of No Child Left Behind,” veteraneducation journalist Alexander Russo explains howTFA edged into the policy debates and was nearlyundone by its reluctance on that front. Russo con-nects TFA’s increasing presence on Capitol Hill withthe debates and ultimate passage of No Child LeftBehind (NCLB) in the early 2000s. Russo argues thatit was primarily luck that TFA was able to escape theNCLB process unscathed. After that scare, TFA rec-ognized that it would do well to engage policymakersmore systematically and aggressively so it could pur-sue federal funding, expand to new locales, andretain flexibility around teacher certification.Russo draws key lessons from TFA’s experiencewith NCLB:
Get in early.
Not only was TFA lucky to emergeunhurt from the NCLB process, but it also likelyshould have been present on Capitol Hill duringeven earlier debates on teacher preparation.Other reform groups that move more slowly intothe political arena might not be so fortunate andcould see laws passed that directly harm theirmission and practice.
Cultivate bipartisan support.
 While many groupsdepend heavily on one party or the other forsupport, TFA successfully nurtured backing fromRepublicans and Democrats in roughly equalmeasure. This helped them in reform debates.
Build coalitions.
TFA’s focus during and afterNCLB authorization was on the aspects of the lawthat dealt with teacher quality and certification;they did far less lobbying on other key facets of NCLB or other debates on federal funding. Thisled, says Russo, to “a certain degree of resent-ment and isolation from other groups, advo-cates, and offices” who wanted TFA’s supportand clout on these other issues. Reform groupsengaging the political realm should carefullyweigh which policy debates they can realisticallypartake in and how doing so will garner supportfrom useful partners.Public education involves spending public fundsto educate the public’s kids. This inevitably involvespublic policy, and therefore politics. Russo offers animportant window into how this played out for oneimportant organization and uses it to provide practi-cal insight for many of today’s would-be reformers.I hope you find this fascinating, brisk account ascompelling as I have. For further information on thepaper, Alexander Russo can be reached at alexander-russo@gmail.com. For additional information on theactivities of AEI’s education policy program, pleasevisit http://www.aei.org/policy/education/ or contactDaniel Lautzenheiser at daniel.lautzenheiser@aei.org.—Frederick M. Hess
Director, Education Policy Studies American Enterprise Institute

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