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Learning from Failure

An education agenda for Mitt Romney.

Jun 11, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 37 • By FREDERICK M. HESS AND ANDREW P. KELLY
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The bottom line: There is a principled alternative to the mantra that we need to “get the feds out of education” and, conversely, the Bush-Obama notion that the feds can fix our schools. Republicans have been right to criticize federal efforts to influence what goes on in classrooms, but it would be a mistake to ignore the fruitful, supporting role that the federal government can play in education reform.

Ultimately, there’s a viable, coherent conservative stance that Governor Romney should take, one that fits comfortably with both our educational heritage and public sentiment: Washington can’t and shouldn’t try to fix schools, but it can help create the conditions that enable educators and local reformers to do so.

Frederick M. Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where Andrew P. Kelly is a research fellow in education. They are the coeditors of Carrots, Sticks, and the Bully Pulpit: Lessons from a Half-Century of Federal Efforts to Improve America’s Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2012).

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