What Do We Say To ARPA-ED? Big “N”, Big “O”….NO!!!
The answer is “NO” to Advanced Research Projects Agency-Education.
“President Barack Obama, along with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, met with other education leaders in Boston to announce the goals of the proposed Advanced Research Projects Agency-Education (ARPA-ED) — “a DARPA for education” — that would award grants to innovative development programs.”
ARPA-ED is the newest big-money expenditure darling of the current administration. The new program would finance research in what President Obama calls “educational technology.” In other words, this program would do the following:
· Develop digital tutoring applications that are as effective as personal tutors.
· Develop tools that improve student learning the more students use them. For example, after developing a game designed to teach fractions, researchers could study how thousands of students master different concepts, creating a “virtual learning laboratory” for continuous improvement.
· Create educational software as compelling as the best video game, using insights from game designers.
Sounds pretty interesting, doesn’t it? Here’s the problem with considering this program at this time…it would cost $90 million dollars in 2012 alone to jump start the program. The program would also be extremely dependent on “consortia of school districts willing to spend on learning IT, investors in educational startups, Internet companies, game developers and philanthropists.”
At the same time that the White House is considering implementation of yet another education agency/program, we get the information that eight in ten U.S. schools could be branded as ‘failing’ this year. According to this report, we also get the news from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that in fiscal year 2009, the federal government spent $4 billion on professional development for teachers with these funds being divided amongst 82 different programs spread throughout 10 different agencies.
Within the Department of Education itself, eight different offices administer 60 programs for teacher retraining. The GAO report suggested that evaluating the success of each is nearly impossible, because of a myriad of different criteria and manpower required to examine them would be prohibitively expensive.
“Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a frequent critic of intransigent bureaucracies, said these duplicative and fragmented programs are proof that the money devoted to such programs would be better funneled to individual states, and even school boards.”
Summing this all up…the education system as a whole is failing, and we have duplicative agencies consuming funds that could be contributing to that failure through differences in standards, but the answer to these failures to add yet another governmental education agency?
Big “N”. Big “O”. NO! NO! NO!
“NO” to the $90 millions dollar start up tag.
“NO” to the development of yet another wasteful government agency.
The suggestion Mr. Shatz has made makes sense. Republicans could start pulling out those GAO reports that are probably lying on a shelf somewhere collecting dust, identify the duplicate agencies, cut those agencies, and give the funds to the individual states to construct an education program that fits within the context of their own population of constituents.