1. Please ask someone with some real classroom experience to serve as he Secretary of Education. It seems of late that the folks heading up the department are a tad on the light side of classroom experience. Imagine how much different an actual teacher might envision a new department of education. Someone with classroom experience (and recent experience would be nice as well) knows firsthand the debacle of testing and the devastating effects testing has on students.
2. Please surround your Education Secretary with experienced teachers and teacher educators. Declare that anyone promoting a package or a program is a persona non grata. Those who want to serve in this department have to be free of corporate ties. Education is much too important. It has to be "commercial free," so to speak.
3. Please charge the new department with gathering the best in educational research. Not the government sponsored research, but the action research from classroom practitioners and the research being conducted within colleges of education that build on what we already know to be true. Let's include some of the research that has been systemically excluded in the past: research on reading aloud, on independent reading, on writing as a process, on teacher preparation.
4. Call a moratorium on testing while the new department gathers data from these last years of testing and teaching to the test and setting pass scores after the fact, and all of the sins committed in the name of testing. Would it hurt anything if we paused and studied the tests and testing?
5. Heed the advice of the new secretary. Be an education president. Not just in slogan, but in reality. Kids are counting on you. Teachers are counting on you. The future depends on what you do here.