Pulse of the experts

The Washington Post recently asked a wide range of government and education policy leaders for their opinion on President Obama’s decision to allow current recipients to maintain their DC Opportunity Scholarships until high school graduation, but not to offer new scholarships.  Contributors include Democratic and Republican officials, a former secretary of education, the DC schools chancellor, the president of the national teachers union, and think tank leaders.

The resulting article is what one would anticipate: a wide spectrum of opinions, some of which nearly drip with partisan rhetoric.

Some of the most interesting observations, however, came from Michael Petrilli, of the nonpartisan Thomas B. Fordham Institute.  Petrilli points out two “missteps” that the “typically fleet-footed” Obama administration has made with regard to the Opportunity Scholarship Program:

First [the administration] believed that the issue was a sideshow, hardly important next to its larger efforts to reform the nation’s schools through the stimulus legislation…

Its second mistake was to ignore the recent federal evaluation of the program, which found it to be boosting participants’ reading skills. Such strong findings are rare in rigorous social science research, and few of the president’s other pet issues (including worthy ones such as charter schools and merit pay for teachers) have similar evidence of effectiveness.”

Read the rest of Petrilli’s comments, and those of many others, in this article.


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