Yesterday, I had the honor of being invited to the White House, along with a roomful of others from Pennsylvania, to talk about education policy.
We heard from two assistants to the President on education policy (Lexi Barrett and Roberto Rodriguez) and two assistant secretaries of Education (David Bergeron and Deborah Delisle), amongst others. And they heard from us.
Although the central policy victory on higher ed that Rodriguez and Bergeron highlighted in their presentation was an increase in Pell grant recipients by 3 million, it was clear to the attendees that the Administration is focused on job training. Brief mention was made of their plan to increase degree holders by 2020 — which is another policy problem altogether.
The message was conveyed, several times, to “the White House” and DOE that we are over-testing students and driving away creativity. As one former DOE teacher-fellow put articulately, there needs to be more to education than how you scored on an achievement test and whether you got a job in one of the high demand, high pay sectors. We need to avoid becoming utilitarian driven; we need to enhance creativity, civic engagement and critical thinking (which is what we do in the 14 state-owned four-year universities).
All in all, it was “interesting”: education policy on the Federal level. But it’s the same tension we see in the Commonwealth: utilitarianism v. the three C’s.
The struggle just gets bigger.
Thanks to the White House (especially Betsy Shelton and Kyle Lierman) for the invite.