Everyday the words and actions of strategists, legislators and pundits feed the growing polarization between the two main parties. In New York State for example, important legislation continues to be shelved or stagnate as partisan politics contributes to an increasingly ineffective government.
Despite this challenging environment, some researchers have been making gains on describing a specific agenda — one on which Democrat and Republicans can find some common ground.
Researchers at Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance believe that in the realm of education policy, the divisions between the parties are “quite minor.” Despite continued resistance to a unified plan, education reform recommendations like merit-based pay or the growing popularity for online education is embraced by leaders on both sides.
William Howell, Paul E. Peterson and Martin West, authors of the paper, go on to write:
Overall, there appears to be far less polarization between the parties than might be expected. On questions concerning their overall assessment of the nation’s schools, student and school accountability, and even the creation of charter schools, the distance between the parties amounted to less than 0.2 points on the 5-point scale. In the case of accountability measures, the combination of strong overall support and minimal partisan conflict suggests that such policies will continue to be central to the nation’s education reform agenda. In the case of charter schools, for which overall support is more mixed, it appears that the important divisions in public opinion are within rather than between the nation’s major political parties.
Below is a video summing up the results of their 2010 Education-Next PEPG Survey: