Giving Compass' Take:

• Education experts discussed school reforms and looked to see what major policies and schools are working best in other countries as examples. 

How do reforms around charter school education deeply affect the children in neighborhoods around those schools? 

• Read about what teachers, district leaders, and elected officials think about education priorities and challenges. 

Though poverty often predetermines educational outcomes in the United States, that isn’t so in other industrialized countries — and the United States could learn a lot from its peers as it develops a school system for the 21st century, the director of education and skills at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development said Tuesday.

“Poverty is not destiny,” in other countries, Andreas Schleicher told a group of education reform advocates and the president of the nation’s largest teachers union at a Georgetown University forum.

The panelists at the gathering, sponsored by Future Ed, a think tank associated with Georgetown, debated Schleicher’s argument before a few dozen people. They touched on centralization versus local autonomy, standardized testing, and private school choice, among other topics where reform advocates and traditional public school supporters are often at odds.

“I think local autonomy, without a shared notion of what good learning outcomes is about, is not going to get you very far,” he said.

Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said local autonomy was revoked during the No Child Left Behind era. The Every Student Succeeds Act, the K-12 federal education law that replaced NCLB, largely shifts power and decision-making back to states and school districts.

The most intense debate surrounded the role of school choice.

Schleicher said many of the most successful countries have a system with more built-in choices. The Netherlands, for instance, functions as primarily a choice system, and most of the schools in Hong Kong started through philanthropy, not government, he said.

What’s key, Schleicher added, is strong accountability for schools where staff believe they’re part of a central system.

What is “toxic,” he said, is too much deregulation. “When you put the responsibility on parents to make good choices, it rarely works,” he said.

Read the full article about discussing school reforms by Carolyn Phenicie at The 74