Richard Riley: Education Was the Main Thing

In the Spring 2011 issue of American Educator, Richard W. Riley and Arthur L. Coleman argue that in the current education debate, we must move from "abstract notions of equity devoid of practical application to a world where high expectations and accountability are clear, and we are meeting our resource obligations in light of those goals." Riley, the former U.S. Secretary of Education and former Governor of South Carolina is Vice Chairman of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Board of Trustees.

In Turning the Page on the Equity Debate. How to Give All Children a Real Opportunity, the authors contend that resources must be aligned so that students, teachers, and administrators receive the support they need.  And, we must remain as focused on understanding the structure and flow of education investments as we are on the outcomes those investments produce. Our conversation must be open to new ways of assessing costs and striving for new efficiencies, and framed in light of specific, targeted investments that are educationally sound and based on research and practice. At the same time that we collect and effectively use key outcome data, the authors urge that we collect data on education investments. "It is not enough just to track student learning over time and disaggregate school- and district-wide performance. To inform student and system-wide evaluation and make plans for improvement over time, state and district data systems also must track the investments being made to achieve those ends," write Riley and Coleman.