It’s rare to see Republicans and Democrats agree on anything these days, so it was particularly heartening at yesterday’s Data Quality Campaign meeting on Strengthening the Feedback Loop: Using Data to Support the College-and-Career-Ready Agenda, to see high-ranking conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats sound the call for better data to understand how secondary and postsecondary schools prepare students for further education and the workforce
While data nerds and policy dorks (myself included), have been harping on this for a looong time, yesterday’s event made it clear that this conversation has finally entered the center of federal and state education policy-making circles.
Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat, former Superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and member of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions referred to data as “the holy grail.” Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, spoke at length about the critical role data plays in transparency and informed decision-making. And he pulled no punches in addressing the knee-jerk “concerns” about privacy (concerns that are often less about privacy and more about avoiding transparency). He said this “the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard… it’s a joke….if that were the case we’d never do anything—including checking our bank accounts online.”
Federal, state, school, and institution policy makers—not to mention students and their parents—are making high-cost, high-impact investments and decisions based on little to no meaningful data. Although the ESEA and budget fights will articulate (real and created) differences between Republicans and Democrats leading up to the 2012 election, perhaps there can be a few areas on which there can be agreement–and action. The holy grail might be a good contender…