Sara Mead wants a new cabinet department:
Critics will argue that the last thing America’s children and families need is more government. And a new federal agency is admittedly a hard sell in the current political climate. But a new Department of Children and Families could actually reduce the amount of bureaucracy in federal programs serving children and families. Currently, these programs are subject to the same administrative rules that govern all Department of Health and Human Services programs, including those designed to do radically different things. Those rules impose additional layers of bureaucracy that undermine the transparency, flexibility, and effectiveness of federal early childhood and anti-poverty programs.
A focused effort to evaluate curricula and shift demand toward more effective options would yield a higher return on investment than more resource-intensive measures. For instance, Krueger (1999) estimated that small classes in the Tennessee classroom size experiment generated a 5 percentile point increase in performance in early grades. But that required reducing class size from 23 to 16 students per teacher. Using an average teacher salary of $55,000, the class size reduction would have a minimum cost across the PARCC and SBAC states of $3.1 billion or $1,046 per student—1,561 times the cost of the annual textbook study, for a slightly larger benefit! (And that does not include the cost of the extra classroom space that would be needed.)
We all know where this is going and the question lurking around the corner should be obvious: what does it mean for one of these education programs to be “successful”? We haven’t even created a shared definition of success yet. It’s lowering recidivism, it’s raising student achievement, it’s creating paths to employment, it’s a welcoming school climate, it’s deep engagement, it’s increased college enrollment, it’s improved family relationships, it’s all of these, it’s something else. What are the real indicators of consistent and meaningful impact for justice-involved kids – and which stories are just nice to hear?
Teaching Strategies with a new survey on tech and early childhood. Higher education innovation. Stone cold self interest. And here you thought the big problem at Oberlin was lousy chicken. Today in don’t keep naked pictures of yourself on your phone. Today in pension calculations.