Innovation, Motherhood, and Apple Pie

Dear Colleagues,

Innovation appears to be driving President Obama’s education agenda. One section of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 authorizes the Secretary of Education to establish a $650 million Innovation Fund–grants to be awarded to local education agencies or partnering nonprofits that have made significant gains in closing the achievement gaps between minority and disadvantaged students and their white counterparts. In the following Brown Center Letter on Education Policy, I provide recommendations on how the Department of Education should evaluate successful programs.

With growing discussion and considerable money heading in the direction of innovation, it’s important that we invest time in determining whether innovations are indeed effective. Efforts on expanding charter schools, which have been important incubators for new education reforms, need to be balanced with the challenging, important, and unheralded task of making process improvements in the operation of traditional schools. After all, 95% of public schools in the U.S. are traditional schools. Innovation investments should improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education for all students.

Also, watch my evaluation of Obama’s education agenda in a recent interview with CBS News’ Bob Schieffer and Politico’s Jonathan Martin.


Russ Whitehurst Director, Brown Center on Education Policy

Read the full Letter »