GW and Education Week co-hosted event with policymakers, analysts and journalists to look at how public education policy will change in 2017 and beyond.
By Kurtis Hiatt
There’s a lot in education policy that doesn’t necessarily split along party lines—things that everyone can get behind.
That was one message from Cecilia Muñoz, assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, during a Dec. 1 event hosted by the George Washington University Graduate School of Education and Human Development and Education Week.
She ticked off some universal education goals:
“The goals of accountability, the goals of supporting teachers, the goals of using metrics to measure ourselves—have been goals of our administration’s work, but they’re also enshrined in the Every Student Succeeds Act and that’s a bipartisan piece of legislation, and hopefully when we’re at our best the notion of making sure that every kid in this country is successful is not the subject of partisan wrangling,” she said.
The event— “What's Ahead for Pre-K-12 After the Elections”—highlighted a bit of uncertainty among those in education about what policy priorities will be for President-Elect Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos, his nominee to be education secretary.
“I don't know what they’re thinking,” Ms. Muñoz said in response to a question about what to expect come January.
What she said she wanted to emphasize—to anyone—is that the Obama administration has been able to show in the last eight years that change and progress, such as in graduation and dropout rates and expanding access to broadband and high-quality pre-K education, is possible.
She noted D.C. is a prime example of a place that has adopted reforms, supported teachers and used data to evaluate success, and the District is now making greater strides than “any other place in the country.”
“We can get to a place where we’re educating every kid in this country successfully,” Ms. Muñoz said. “And that I think is the most important thing, among the most important lessons of the last eight years, that I would hope that anyone … would take heart in and continue to invest in. Because we’re making progress.”
Michael Feuer, dean of GSEHD, provided welcoming remarks and participated in a panel discussion, “Beyond the Elections: Politics, Policy and Education.”
“The George Washington University, like many institutions of higher learning in the United States, is committed to the principle of objective, multi-partisan scholarship, teaching and knowledge,” Dr. Feuer said in his opening remarks.
Maria Voles Ferguson, executive director of the GW Center on Education Policy, also moderated a panel with state and federal officials on their views on the shifting education policy landscape and questions about the incoming Trump administration.
Lara Brown, interim director and associate professor of the GW Graduate School of Political Management, also participated, discussing the issues that were on voters’ minds this year, including equity and various domestic policy issues.
Michele Givens, president and CEO of editorial projects in education at Education Week, also offered introductory remarks, commenting on the increased role that fake news stories played in this year’s election and the ever-important need for reputable reporting on education policy issues.