Frederick Hess at Education Next wrote a great list of 10 New Year’s resolutions for those who will be taking charge at the U.S. Department of Education. I wanted to highlight a few here:
2. Because I know that serious people can disagree passionately and sincerely on heated educational questions, I’ll look askance at one-size-fits-all federal directives and instead work to give states and communities the ability to solve problems and own the consequences.
3. I’ll make sure there’s at least one day a month where I’m engaging with and listening to those who disagree with my views. So long as my critics offer me the same courtesy, I pledge not to simply dismiss them as “selfish,” “ignorant,” “misguided,” or “close-minded.” Rather, I’ll respect their willingness to speak up and keep in mind that hard-hitting exchanges can help keep me honest and grounded.
4. I’m in an office that I haven’t “earned” in any real sense and yet have a significant ability to influence the lives of millions of students, educators, and families. Thus, I’ll strive to remember that many of these people may disagree with me as to what’s “right” or in their best interest, and to accept their criticisms and disagreements in good faith.
5. However frustrating it may be at times, I’ll keep in mind that the people who do the work in schools, communities, and colleges are usually far better positioned than I am to make judgments about “what works” for their students.
6. I will work to restore the federal role in education to one that respects the constitutional and statutory role of the U.S. Department of Education, and I won’t be deterred by the sniping of self-impressed pundits, advocates, and former federal officials.
7. I will remember that it’s Congress’s job to write the nation’s laws, and that the job of executive branch agencies (like the Department of Ed) is to execute those laws—not to rewrite them or impose their own.