States counterplan multi-purpose



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STATES COUNTERPLAN

MULTI-PURPOSE

OFFENSE

NB – politics link turns case

Politics link turns solvency---even if the initial policy is sound, it won’t achieve lasting change because of entrenched resistance


Chopin 13 – JD, associate in the Labor & Employment Law Department and a member of the Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Group, focusing on complex employee benefits litigation (Lindsey, “COMMENT: UNTANGLING PUBLIC SCHOOL GOVERNANCE: A PROPOSAL TO END MEANINGLESS FEDERAL REFORM AND STREAMLINE CONTROL IN STATE EDUCATION AGENCIES,” 59 Loyola Law Review 399, Lexis)//BB

1. The Exoskeleton of Policy



On a broad level, one that is much broader than education policy alone, ambitious federal policies are often difficult to implement because there is a large gap between the theory of the policy and the actual ability to put the theory into practice. 196 There are many reasons for this gap, one being that the policy put forth by the federal government must pay the "political price of passage." 197 This price consists of two components - attractiveness and flexibility - and ultimately weakens the strength of the policy. Policy may be considered attractive for many reasons, such as the perceived level of impact it will have and the speed at which it is enacted. 198 Therefore, once the public perceives a "crisis," politicians have to react quickly for their actions to have high appeal. The result is that their policy often rests more on rhetoric and hope, than on actual research itself. 199 Moreover, their proposed solution must generally be wide-reaching and hard-hitting, even if common sense indicates that it will be too difficult to enact or that failure is likely. 200 Economic research has shown that the further a policy stretches from standard procedure, the more likely it is to fail or have perverse side effects; thus, these types of reforms, although attractive, will likely have a high failure rate. 201 When failure occurs, the policy must be reformed, which creates a vicious cycle of policy after policy. 202 Section III(B)(1)(a) explores this method of "rapid fire reform" and why it is not suited to govern educational policy. Second, because legislation must pass through a Congress composed of members with vastly different viewpoints and agendas, policies must be flexible enough to please representatives of all fifty states. As seen in the recent [*434] congressional impasses, this type of agreement is not easily reached, and the policies suffer as a result. 203 With every concession of flexibility comes a chance for failure, and the result is a set of regulations with no substance or enforcement potential. 204 Even if the initial policies or goals were sound, the policies will likely never make any real, widespread change. 205 Section III(B)(1)(b) will explore the difficulty in implementing these innovations.

NB – circumvention – social capital

Federalizing education strips social capital from education enforcers---makes follow-through at the school-level less likely


Mills 12 – Professor of Law @ NYU (Robert, “EDUCATIONAL INNOVATION AND THE LAW: THE CASE FOR EDUCATIONAL FEDERALISM: PROTECTING EDUCATIONAL POLICY FROM THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT'S DISECONOMIES OF SCALE,” 87 Notre Dame L. Rev. 1941, Lexis)//BB

A. Three Advantages of Subnational Democracy For Mobilizing Support for Education



Consider three advantages of subnational democracy in mobilizing support for education - bonding social capital, home-value capitalization, and ideological sorting. Each of these advantages suggests that subnational government ought to play a lead (although not an exclusive) role in raising revenue for, and regulating the content of, education.

1. Bonding Social Capital and Subnational Democracy

Increasing the size of a community tends to increase its demographic and ideological heterogeneity, and there are reasons to believe that heterogeneity can impede cooperation by reducing what Robert Putnam has termed "bonding social capital." 37 "Bonding social capital" refers to the capacity of like-minded persons to cooperate with each other in collective action tasks requiring high degrees of trust and reciprocity. 38 Putnam has defended the claim that social [*1957] heterogeneity decreases the capacity of citizens to cooperate, because people who think alike will tend to trust each other more than people who have ideological, religious, or cultural differences, 39 a contention that, despite being hotly controverted, has found support from other researchers measuring the capacity of citizens to unite for civic projects or interact with each other in political activities. 40 Despite the controversy that Putnam's claim has generated, the claim that ideological diversity impedes political cooperation is hardly novel, dating at least from James Madison's Federalist No. 10.

Regarding education in particular, there is some historical support for the claim that communities with lower levels of ethnocultural, ideological, and income diversity have found it easier to raise revenue for educational investments. Claudia Goldin and Laurence Katz found that school districts' voters were more likely to embrace the massive investment in high schools during the early twentieth century if they were more economically and ethnoculturally homogenous. 41 Likewise Marion Orr found that inter-racial distrust distracted Baltimore schools from their educational mission. 42

Households with children tend to have many opportunities for social and political interaction, simply because children draw parents into social networks of sports leagues, parent-teacher associations, and more informal school activities. As William Fischel notes, these networks can be used to participate in public life, as households with children [*1958] come to know and trust each other as a result of their other interactions in school-based networks. 43 But Fischel also notes that the social capital created by these networks is "community-specific": it is most effective within the local jurisdictions in which the network of "social capitalists" is concentrated. 44 Learning how to divide up time and talking points with one's neighbors helps a lot at the school board's microphone, because the neighbors are all physically concentrated within the jurisdiction of the school board. Those skills will not, however, help a lot with coordinating a campaign to influence a congressional committee chair residing in another state. 45



Elevating educational policymaking to the federal level, therefore, strips households with children of their most valuable political asset - their social capital derived from their local networks. As the relevant constituency increases in size, those personal networks become less politically useful: they are replaced by media that create connections between strangers - mass mail alerts, email blasts, blog posts, newsletters, television advertisements, etc. Because these mass-mobilizing devices cost money and require expertise in mass communication, groups with expertise in fundraising will have a comparative advantage over households with children. In effect, the change in level of government also changes relative to political power, placing households with children on turf where their skills and in-person networks are least relevant and where fundraising skills are most relevant. 46

By suggesting that households with children will do better subnationally rather than nationally, I do not mean to suggest that smaller jurisdictions are always "closer to the people." On issues where the costs of acquiring information are very high, there might be scale economies in communication that outweigh the advantages of cheap access to local political networks. For constituencies that are unaware or uninterested in the relevant policies, the advantages of a large and heterogeneous political ecology - a diverse national media with dozens of websites, high levels of television coverage, nationally competitive political parties, a plethora of competing interest groups, etc. - may promote political participation far more effectively than the ease of showing up at a hearing in person. Because national political [*1959] processes tend to be more salient than subnational processes, the former might actually be "closer to the people" than the latter whenever public consciousness of or interest in political issues is low. 47



But the peculiar characteristic of stably governed households with children is that their high stakes in educational policymaking already tend to make them well-informed about educational policy disputes, without the aid of a dense and heterogeneous interest group and media environment. The marginal gains in issue-salience from elevating educational issues to the national level will, therefore, likely be small, while the loss of access to the relevant decision-makers is large. If one accepts the argument in Part I that these households deserve special deference on their educational decisions, then it also follows that subnational politics ought to receive special primacy on educational policy-making, because subnational politics tend to give more weight to the political strengths of stably governed households.

Social capital is the key determinant of education policy success


O’Day and Smith 16 - * Institute Fellow of American Institutes for Research and is the Founder and Chair of the California Collaborative on District Reform. Her research has focused on system change, improvement in high-poverty districts and schools, and policies affecting English language learners, ** Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, a former Dean and Professor at Stanford, and a former Under Secretary and Acting Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education in the Clinton administration. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education (Jennifer and Marshall, “Equality and Quality in U.S. Education,” American Institute for Research, http://www.air.org/sites/default/files/downloads/report/Equality-Quality-Education-EPC-September-2016.pdf)//BB

Implementation is a social process. Effective implementation requires activating relationships among people, groups, and organizations (social capital)—not just once but repeatedly and continually. In high-poverty contexts, staff turnover and a lack of trust often impede the development of the strong relationships needed to make evidence-based practices work and to foster individual and organizational learning. Attempts to ensure implementation and the spread of effective practices through administrative mandates do little to solve the problem as they too often lead to superficial compliance without deep understanding or committed action. Lesson Two: Piecemeal Reforms Leave Systemic Contributors Untouched Many of these implementation challenges persist because isolated and piecemeal reforms seldom address the underlying systemic contributors to the targeted situation or inequity. Moreover, incoherence and instability in the policy environment make it difficult to identify and change these contributing conditions. Superintendents, school boards, and legislators come and go—often with great frequency—whereas disparities in resources and practices go on, bolstered by institutionalized structures and beliefs. On the ground, schools in high-poverty neighborhoods lack the information, trust, and capacity they need to examine their practices and results over time and are pulled in multiple and conflicting directions by the mixed messages they receive. High-stakes testing and rigid accountability measures can compound these issues and have the effect of drawing attention to avoiding consequences for adults rather than ensuring progress for students.

Federal mandates makes parents believe they have less choice--depletes parent buy-in---lowers educational outcomes


Pinder 10 - Associate Professor, John Marshall Law School, Atlanta, Georgia; former program attorney, Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Department of Education. B.A., Smith College; J.D., New York University School of Law; LL.M., Georgetown University Law Center (Kamina, “Federal Demand and Local Choice: Safeguarding the Notion of Federalism in Education Law and Policy, 39 J.L. & Educ. 1, Lexis)//BB

Professor Heise suggests control of educational policy should be given to the level of government that pays the associated costs and asserts that by decoupling funding and policy, NCLB dilutes voting citizens' influence. 182 Connecting policy to funding may serve to protect federalist interests in most instances, but as states and the federal government increasingly fund education, they are presented with a danger in connecting funding to control. Although poor districts do not have the fiscal resources necessary to provide basic educational needs, much less innovative educational programs, 183 there is value in allowing the local voter to have input in local education policy rather than imposing it from the federal level. Evidence supports the claim that the less input parents have on their children's educational choices, the less successful the educational experience. 184 Interestingly, at least part of that parental input may be attributable to spending; parents who are disconnected from school spending are less likely to be interested in assessing schools' educational value. 185


Fiat doesn’t solve---feds can’t force compliance at state, local and school level


Lips 10 - senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute and the Maryland Public Policy Institute, former Education Analyst in the Domestic Policy Studies Department at The Heritage Foundation (Dan, “A Smarter Path to a "Race to the Top" in Education Reform,” Heritage Foundation, http://www.heritage.org/education/report/smarter-path-race-the-top-education-reform)//BB

First, the federal government has a limited ability to force states and school districts to comply with reforms. In reality, the struggle to implement real school reforms at the state and local level is a political one. For school reforms to work, state and local leaders and education officials must embrace reform strategies and commit to seeing through their implementation. Federal incentives and punishments will have a limited ability to convince state and local politicians to take on the political challenge of education reform.



NB – SEAs

The counterplan alone promotes SEA leadership—which promotes state innovation---the plan and perm tradeoff by shifting SEA resources towards compliance with federal regulations, and undercutting SEA trend-setting


---the impact is achievement gaps

Weiss and McGuinn 16 - *consultant to organizations on education programs, technologies, and policy, and former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, **PhD, Professor of Political Science and Education at Drew University and Senior Research Specialist, Consortium for Policy Research in Education (Joanne and Patrick, “The Evolving Role of the State Education Agency in the Era of ESSA: Past, Present, and Uncertain Future,” http://www.aspendrl.org/portal/browse/DocumentDetail?documentId=2958&download&admin=2958%7C1917288972)//BB

***SEA = State Education Agencies



Under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), states have considerably more flexibility and authority in K-12 education than they had under the previous federal education law, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). And with this increased power comes the increased responsibility to support the improvement of educational outcomes for every student in the state. Leaders at the helm of state education agencies (SEAs) therefore find themselves in a moment of both great change and great opportunity, as many agencies move away from a predominant focus on compliance with federal regulations and programmatically dictated uses of funds, and toward a broader focus on supporting districts and schools. For many advocates of low-performing students, it is also a moment of potential peril if states fail to embrace their new responsibilities and work hard to improve educational opportunity and outcomes. As the definition of – and responsibility for – success changes in this new environment, the roles of the SEA [State Education Agencies] deserve reconsideration. There is no “correct” set of roles for the SEA [State Education Agencies], no consistent answer to the question of which activities a state agency should – or should not – engage in. Each SEA [State Education Agencies] is starting from a different place along a change management continuum, and each has different educational strengths and assets to build upon, different needs to address, and a unique set of laws to follow and traditions to respect. ESSA presents fewer federal mandates, which opens the door to state creativity and innovation. But having fewer mandates also raises questions about state capacity and removes the political cover that was, until recently, provided by federal rules. With this reduction in federal direction and oversight, the onus to define and implement a vision for the state’s educational future will rest almost entirely with the state’s educational leadership. And while leading change is done by a few, it is work that can be undone by many. States therefore should be very deliberate in fostering conditions within the state that are conducive to educational improvement and consistent with the state’s vision — building statewide understanding of the problems, support for the proposed solutions, and pressure to perform at higher levels. This will not be easy. Driving educational change from the state capitol all the way down to the classroom is extraordinarily difficult. For reforms to succeed, state policy changes must change district practice, district practices must change the behavior of principals and teachers, and school-level changes must deliver improved student performance.1 As a result, the vigor and effectiveness of SEAs [State Education Agencies] — and their ability to support local districts — will be critical, particularly as states now have more discretion over education policy in the wake of ESSA. But state commitment alone may not be sufficient, for, as many scholars have noted, states suffer from a “capacity gap” that undermines their ability to monitor and enforce policy mandates and provide technical guidance to districts. States must acknowledge the SEA’s [State Education Agencies] critical role in the ESSA era and fund them accordingly so they have adequate resources to do this work. For their part, SEAs [State Education Agencies] will need to reorganize themselves and prioritize their functions to adapt to the new demands being placed on them. As they do so, they will need to identify areas of comparative advantage and economies of scale — where the state can do something better and/or more efficiently than districts. If we are to close the country’s longstanding racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps and address concerns about the nation’s overall educational performance, states and SEAs [State Education Agencies] will increasingly need to lead the effort.

NB – SEAs – link

Federal monitoring requirements overstretch SEAs


Unger et. al 8 (Chris Unger, Brett Lane, Elisabeth Cutler, Saeyun Lee, Joye Whitney, Elise Arruda, and Martin Silva, Brown University: The Education Alliance, “How Can State Education Agencies Support District Improvement? A Conversation Amongst Educational Leaders, Researchers, and Policy Actors” https://www.brown.edu/academics/education-alliance/sites/brown.edu.academics.education-alliance/files/publications/Symposium.pdf) GG

There is a growing body of research, confirmed by our own practical experience working with states and districts across the eastern seaboard, that the system of public education is fragmented and lacks cohesiveness. There is no entity to “blame” for this fragmentation. The fact that the fragmentation exists suggests that there is an opportunity to dramatically improve the system of public education by fostering coherence and aligning structures and processes within and across levels of the system. What do we mean by and see as evidence of the lack of cohesiveness? With the government’s new expectation that states develop an effective “state system of support” for improved teaching and learning, we see state education agencies striving to provide support to schools, yet struggling to balance and negotiate these support efforts with federal requirements to monitor districts and schools for compliance; we see state officials struggling to find time to meet and constructively discuss how they can provide support to districts; we see districts and schools writing and submitting multiple plans for improvement to different state-level offices; we see schools and districts responding to what they perceive as contradictory policies and regulations; we see schools in which teachers continue to teach in isolation, and in which special education students or the growing numbers of English Language Learners are still spoken of as “others”; and we see communities whose confidence in their local schools and districts has greatly diminished. At the same time, we recognize that there are many state, district, and local school leaders, principals and teachers who are, in the midst of this new era of accountability, doing their best to find ways to more effectively support the opportunities and achievement of the students under their wing. And many of these passionate and expert educational leaders are providing excellent examples of how to build leadership capacity and increase coherence across the education system. We are also finding that educational leaders and other members within and across each level of the system—federal, state, district, and school—each bring their own perspective on what ails the system. These differences in perspectives are unfortunately exacerbated due to the lack of opportunities for cross-role groups to collectively: (1) identify the central challenges facing them, and (2) consider and pursue the strategies and resources that will truly effect change for the better. If our system of public education is to flourish and move towards its goal of providing a high quality education for all students, then the knowledge and perspectives of leaders from each level of the system must be heard, valued, and collectively considered. In order to develop a meaningful assessment of schools’ and districts’ needs and provide the types and intensity of support required to address those needs, professionals and stakeholders at all levels of the system need to learn from each other. When forums and “dedicated space” for targeted conversations among individuals within and across the system is provided, there is an opportunity to share assumptions and issues, problem solve around a core issue or outcome, respond to changing circumstances, and reconcile policies and strategies. From such conversations could come efforts to work together more synergistically and harmoniously—in a word, coherently—in a way that leads to dramatic inroads into the common and specific challenges that are faced by schools and districts.

Federal auditing requirements undermine SEA effectiveness


Hanna et al. 14 (Robert, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress. | Jeffrey Morrow, Associate at Sidley Austin, LLP, in the Litigation practice in the Washington, D.C., office. Morrow earned his law degree, cum laude, at Georgetown University, where he was the senior administrative editor for The Georgetown Law Journal. | Marci Rozen, Associate at Sidley Austin, LLP, in the Litigation practice in the Washington, D.C., office. Rozen earned her law degree at The University of Chicago Law School, where she served as the senior comments editor for The University of Chicago Legal Forum. || “Cutting Red Tape Overcoming State Bureaucracies to Develop High-Performing State Education Agencies,” Center for American Progress. June 2014.)//tbrooks

1. Federal policymakers should improve, modify, and streamline compliance monitoring and reporting requirements. Federal policymakers should make it a priority to help make SEAs world-class places to work. A primary obstacle to state-level organizational reform is federal education requirements and auditing. State leaders acknowledge that the fear of consequences from a bad audit motivates their approach to agency leadership. This fear is real, but federal policymakers should improve how they monitor the activities of SEAs. There is no consensus among analysts about which rules should stay and which should go, but it is clear that some could be improved.72 Consider, for example, a solution proposed by CAP and its partners to the supplement-not-supplant requirement mentioned earlier in this paper. CAP and others have suggested that states and districts should be able to take a more comprehensive approach in order to meet this requirement. Specifically, district leaders should only need to show that they have distributed state and local funds to Title I and non-Title I schools in the same way instead of the current requirement: testing whether individual costs would have been made in the absence of federal funding.73 This could significantly reduce administrative burden for state leaders, as they would not have to monitor compliance at such a minute level.74


NB – SEAs – impact – innovation

SEA-led innovation successfully prepares students for an unpredictable job force


Weiss and McGuinn 16 - *consultant to organizations on education programs, technologies, and policy, and former chief of staff to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, **PhD, Professor of Political Science and Education at Drew University and Senior Research Specialist, Consortium for Policy Research in Education (Joanne and Patrick, “The Evolving Role of the State Education Agency in the Era of ESSA: Past, Present, and Uncertain Future,” http://www.aspendrl.org/portal/browse/DocumentDetail?documentId=2958&download&admin=2958%7C1917288972)//BB

One final non-traditional SEA [State Education Agencies] role is worthy of consideration: spurring innovation. Education is in a period of intense change. The world is rife with ambiguity and teachers are often preparing students for careers that have not yet been invented. Schools are equipped with more and newer technologies. Teachers are expected to master new and complex instructional practices. And students are challenged to meet higher expectations than ever before. States may find that, with the right incentives, flexibilities, or resources, educators can address important challenges in novel ways. Against this backdrop, SEAs [State Education Agencies] might decide that it is a priority to design and develop policies that not only enable innovation, but encourage and fuel it. To identify new solutions to challenging problems, new ways of measuring performance, or new pathways for student learning, some states, like New Hampshire, are already taking on pilots of competency-based learning and assessment. Other states have developed grant competitions modeled loosely on the federal Investing in Innovation or Race to the Top programs. 62 The Council of Chief State School Officers leads an Innovation Lab Network (ILN) that supports states-as-innovators. Directly supporting innovators, carving out funding to incent innovation in schools or districts, and creating the policy “space” to support careful experimentation, could surface as important new SEA [State Education Agencies] roles.


NB – SEAs – AT perm

Redundant mandates causes SEA siloing, and trades off with valuable resources---prevents innovation


Unger et. al 8 (Chris Unger, Brett Lane, Elisabeth Cutler, Saeyun Lee, Joye Whitney, Elise Arruda, and Martin Silva, Brown University: The Education Alliance, “How Can State Education Agencies Support District Improvement? A Conversation Amongst Educational Leaders, Researchers, and Policy Actors” https://www.brown.edu/academics/education-alliance/sites/brown.edu.academics.education-alliance/files/publications/Symposium.pdf) GG

It was clear that state administrators felt that they needed to reconsider the ways that SEAs were organized and “do business” with districts, as it was clear that SEAs have traditionally been organized as monitoring and compliance bureaucracies, compartmentalized into various “silos” by department. In the words of one SEA official, “To the idea of lacking systemic focus or optimizing the subparts, we were clearly broken into silos and bunkers that were absolutely, hermetically sealed.” Many mentioned the need to break down the silo structures and create opportunities for SEA personnel to begin to collaborate on shared improvement efforts. Some SEA leaders, researchers, and external educational actors rallied behind the idea of creating a sub-unit (or multiple units) within the SEA that could operate independently and with greater autonomy. Such semi-autonomous units would be better able to respond to districts’ and schools’ needs effectively and quickly through targeted and coordinated support and technical assistance. In addition to confronting the challenge of operating in silos, many participants asserted that the traditional organizational structure of SEAs did not enable SEAs to function as “service” entities that can effectively construct long-term and trusting relationships with districts to collaboratively tackle challenges at both the district and school levels. There is a need for a shared focus, common language, and greater coherence. Many participants across the different role groups voiced the need for greater coherence up and down the layers of the system, such as the federal government and SEAs, SEAs and districts, and districts and schools and individual classrooms. This includes having a shared focus on desired outcomes and a common language regarding the targeted goals of improvement efforts across states, federal and state legislatures, SEA offices, and district efforts. In addition, district administrators were displeased with the overabundance of various mandates and compliance monitoring processes that, in many cases, were redundant and therefore stifled improvement efforts. They also asserted that these bureaucratic mandates and processes often required a great deal of their time, energy, and resources. One superintendent, speaking about SEAs, asked the following question: “If you’re not coherent, how can my district be coherent?”


Resource prioritization is key to SEA success


Haglund 16 (Rich Haglund, Real Clear Education, “SEA as Portfolio Manager: Strategic Leadership that Leverages Local-Level Expertise” 3/17/16, Rich Haglund is General Counsel & Chief Operating Officer of Tennessee’s Achievement School District http://www.realcleareducation.com/articles/2016/03/17/sea_as_portfolio_manage_1274.html) GG

“Our role as leaders is to set the stage, not perform on it,” Harvard Business School Professor Linda Hill explained in a September 2014 TED talk on leadership for innovation. The innovative leaders Hill studied didn’t try to solve every problem themselves; instead, they began to see the people at the bottom of their organizational pyramids—the people closest to their customers—as the source of innovation. The SEA as Portfolio Manager This approach can be powerful for state education agencies (SEAs). By enabling those “closest to the customers”—in this case, educators who work with students every day—to unleash their insights about what works, SEAs can be more efficient and find more effective, innovative ways to support schools and students. This is why I encourage state education leaders to think of their SEA as a portfolio manager – a comparison not as radical as it may seem. Financial portfolio managers oversee their clients’ investment options, and SEAs manage families’ education options. Financial portfolio managers help safeguard their clients’ financial futures, and SEAs help set the vision and provide the resources to prepare all students for life after graduation. In most cases, both leave the ultimate decisions for how to achieve these ends up to the people they serve. The Center for Reinventing Public Education has adopted this analogy and helped school systems across the country implement what they call a “portfolio strategy” with seven components aimed at giving families the educational options and freedom to choose what’s best for their children. It also empowers principals to decide what’s best for their schools. Schools must still meet performance standards, but in essence, this model relinquishes some decision making power to those who are closest to the students. Tools to Reframe the SEA’s Role The portfolio manager approach underlines the critical importance for SEAs to be thoughtful and strategic about entrusting districts and schools with certain responsibilities. To help state leaders do this, the Aspen Institute Education & Society Program recently developed a concise discussion guide, Roles and Responsibilities of the State Education Agency. It invites leaders to consider their current legal and political context to determine the essential functions of their SEA, what other activities it may want to be engaged in, and—perhaps most helpfully—which functions SEAs should stop (or never start) doing. Thankfully, many changes to an SEA’s work—or changes to how responsibilities are distributed among an SEA, LEAs (including districts as well as non-traditional operators, and their schools) won’t require legal modifications. It’s quite likely, however, that policies and procedures must be modified to support the SEA’s role as a “steerer” instead of a “rower,” as David Osborne and Ted Gaebler have described the role in Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector. The recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act is a perfect opportunity for SEAs to reexamine how they steer education policy as they gain greater flexibility and autonomy; although it may be tempting continue rowing, SEAs can act as a portfolio manager and empower local leaders to take the oars. Lessons from Tennessee When Tennessee revised its math, language arts, and science curriculum standards a few years ago, the SEA used grant money to provide training for all teachers in the state, because the new standards affected all teachers. But the SEA didn’t actually conduct the training--teachers did, while the SEA facilitated the training—finding venues, communicating opportunities, and providing materials and help for teachers who led the sessions. Because state leaders resisted the impulse to do everything, and let school operators and educators handle those activities they were best equipped to take on, the training was a success: According to a state evaluation, the trainings had significant positive effects on teachers’ instruction and students’ learning. It’s also important to note that the SEA strategically staffed and sequenced this initiative without cutting corners on cost or dosage. For states considering a similar initiative without additional grant funding like Tennessee had, the SEA must prioritize resources, reallocating funding from other, less effective uses to support this new strand of work. SEAs have a powerful opportunity to reexamine their role and find creative new ways to empower local leadership. They should, as Hill put it, “create the space where everybody's slices of genius can be unleashed and harnessed, and turned into works of collective genius.” Collective genius is exactly what we need to prepare all students for success in college and careers. It’s up to SEAs review their approach, be deliberate and strategic about their roles, and tap into what might be their richest resource of all—educators in the classroom.


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