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American Enterprise Institute Analyzes Impact of 2012 Election
posted by: Ruthie | November 08, 2012, 10:30 PM   

This morning, AAE staff members had the pleasure of attending an American Enterprise Institute (AEI) education policy event in Washington, D.C. With the 2012 election fresh on the minds of all attendees, AEI hosted a discussion answering the question, "What will the 2012 election mean for education?"

The panel included Katherine Haley, assistant to the Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), Frederick Hess, resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI, Andy Rotherham, co-founder and partner at a non-profit working to improve educational outcomes for low-income students, Kristin Soltis Anderson, vice president of a Washington, D.C.-based strategy and message design firm, and Alyson Klein, a reporter from Education Week.

The panel began with moderator, Andrew Kelly, asking three questions to each panelist : what was the biggest surprise in the election results? Who was the biggest winner? And what word or phrase would you use to describe the future of education in President Obama's second term?

In response to the first question, the consensus among several of the panelists was Tony Bennett's surprise loss in Indiana and the impact it will have on education reform in the state. In conjunction with this sentiment, several panelists said that the teacher unions were the biggest winners, for their success in ousting Bennett. Another common answer was the idea that the biggest surprise was Governor Romney's win of the independents' vote, while still losing the election.

In response to the third question about a word or phrase characterizing the education climate, the answers echoed similar ideas. "Chaotic with little funding," "common core," and "noise not action at federal level" were all responses from the panel.

While some panelists viewed the future of education as volatile, they each concluded it would be a prominent issue in the next four years. Kristin Soltis Anderson described education as "second tier, right underneath unemployment and health care." She predicted education would rise to the level of importance it enjoyed before 9/11.

With regard to changing K-12 priorities, the experts predicted evolving demographics will impact education in the future. Andy Rotherham contended that the composition of the electorate and increased numbers of Latino voters would have a large effect on education policy. He said that fiscal issues and immigration would dominate the second term, with less of a focus on education.

Almost all of the panelists agreed that the lame duck congress would have difficulties, especially with regard to the reauthorization of ESEA and sequestration. With education programs set to be cut by 8.2%, all federal programs will feel the pinch.

Frederick Hess conceded that the ramifications of the "horribly designed" No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law will dominate the Department of Education's attention. Negotiating waivers for NCLB and enforcing the common core will cause friction and potentially chaos. "It will not be a fun place to be," he remarked.

The experts agreed that the increased acceptance of public charter schools, signified by the legislation passed in Georgia and Washington state, would empower local and state educational agencies to make changes. "School choice is much less toxic," stated Andy Rotherham.

President Obama's first term in office brought education reform to the forefront. With an economy on a precipice, a rapidly changing demographic, and policies potentially changing the future of healthcare, education remains an issue that will receive a significant amount of attention over the next four years.

Click here to view the full AEI event.

What K-12 issues should President Obama focus on in the next four years?
Comment below.

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