Meanings: “Plan”

April 21, 2011

Kevin Carey at Education Sector has a post today entitled “Free Advice.”  I’ve linked to it, but here’s the whole text.  I’m thinking about what he means and whether I agree.  I’d appreciate hearing from anyone who has a thought about whether he is saying something important:

Free Advice

by Kevin Carey on April 20, 2011

If you’re in a position to craft education policy or advise those who do, and you find yourself writing the words “submit a plan”–as in, there are schools or colleges out there and you want them to do something new or be better at something they’re already doing, and your strategy for making this happen is to write a law or regulation requiring said schools or colleges to write a plan describing how they’re going to do or improve this thing you care about and then submit said plan to a state or federal department of education wherein a bureaucrat will read and judge said plan and subsequently engage in a dialogue with said schools or colleges that will ensure the quality of the plan, the fidelity of its implementation, and thus the fruition of your policy idea, you need to put down your pencil, turn off your computer, go for a walk, and try harder, because you don’t have a credible solution to your problem. “Plans” is not a plan.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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2 Responses to Meanings: “Plan”

  1. sibyl says:

    If you look closely at what Kevin Carey is saying, you see that he’s objecting not to planning per se, but to the endless review of plans by officials with oversight responsibility. My experience, personal and professional, is that plans are of essential value for those who actually have things to do. If policy types want to do something, they should install the requirement itself and not request plans: for example, require all institutions to meet or exceed a loan repayment rate of X%, rather than require all institutions to submit a plan for achieving a loan repayment rate of X%.

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