Monday, December 06, 2004


You know all those millions of dollars in federal education grants that are being thrown down a rathole on cockamamie make-work programs and other foolish things? Well, finally, there’s an appropriate use of fed-ed dollars in place, with good people at the helm.

It’s the Institute for Education Sciences, located at:


This is the U.S. Department of Education’s attempt to bring into one place all kinds of useful information, research results, and statistics about K-12 education. It will be a good resource for educators, parents, taxpayers, policymakers, and all those interested in improving our schools. I’ve said all along that the federal government has no business making policy or funding programs with regard to our children’s schooling, but it should be monitoring and reporting what’s going on at the local level in useful ways . . . like this.

If your school proposes to do something wacky and faddish, you can consult this site to find out if it has been tried and discredited elsewhere. Or if your school is experiencing a problem in some area, you can gather evidence for what works to solve that problem by reviewing the research here.

This may be the best chance yet to get rid of the tendency in K-12 education to try things out just for the sake of trying them out, and flying by the seat of the pants just on a hunch or a whim, spending tax dollars because they CAN. A better course of action by far is an evidence-based approach, and now we all will have better access to that evidence.

It’s energizing, too, to see who’s on the board of this new service. They include Eric Hanushek, Caroline Hoxby, Richard Milgram, Sally Shaywitz and Herb Walberg, all education professionals whose work I greatly admire.

Good news for a Monday morning, eh?

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