Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cash for Clunkers in Education?

The Cash for Clunkers program for which the US Senate just approved another $2 billion is an easy target for skeptics. You can hear them now all over talk radio: "Oh, please, do you really think that several billions of tax payer dollars can at one and the same time quickly stimulate spending and energize a big reform agenda? Sounds like another government run boondoggle."

Well, I must admit that I was one of those skeptics at the outset. But now I am forced to also admit that I caved and actually tried to turn in my clunker (a 1987 red Chevy Cavalier convertible) for the down payment on a new Smart car. It didn't quite work because my mpg was too high but still I was swayed by the dual benefits of $ and "green" cars.

The anecdotal feedback on this program is very promising in spite of some potential unintended consequences. So is there something similar for education that could be cleverly implemented to produce the dual benefits of stimulating the economy and advancing significant reform. Might it be the Race to the Top or the Investing in Innovation funds? Or is it hidden in the School Improvement fund or Teacher Incentive Fund? I don't know but I sure look forward to conversations about this during the "Unleashing Knowledge and Innovation for the Next Generation of Learning" Summit in New Mexico this coming week. Check out here the conference's online networking platform as well as the comments about the clunker for ed idea.

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