NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What's Ahead for Education after the 2012 Election

December 18, 2012

Although education policy has seen much change and activity in the last four years, newly elected and veteran leaders will encounter three key trends following the 2012 election: the federal government's lack of K-12 funding now that the stimulus dollars of the last few years have dried up; a split in the Republican Party concerning education reform and statewide education reform initiatives; and the undaunted political power of teachers unions, which won several victories at the state level, say researchers with the American Enterprise Institute.

While the Obama administration's first term has focused on competitive grants and waivers, its second term will shift toward managing implementation and pushback while coping with staff shake-ups within the Department of Education. Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in Congress will have to compete with other priorities, like the fiscal cliff, federal deficit and health care reform. State-level leaders will have to continue to navigate the ongoing influence of teachers unions and popular reform issues like charter schools. All of these changes add up to an uncertain outlook for education reform over the next four years.

Key points made by the authors:

  • Following the 2012 election, the authors see three major trends in education reform: reduced federal funding for K-12, a growing divide over education reform within the GOP, and the staying power of teachers unions.
  • The attention of the new Congress will likely be monopolized by economic issues and implementation of the Affordable Care Act, leaving it little time for Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization or other significant education reforms.
  • Issues surrounding ESEA waivers and higher education will likely be focal points at the federal level, with charter schooling, union and teacher evaluation issues dominating at the state level.

Source: Michael Q. McShane et al., "What's Ahead for Education after the 2012 Election," American Enterprise Institute, December 4, 2012.


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