The Big Brains at Darpa have dreamed up some pretty cool stuff over the years: GPS, mind-controlled robotic arms, the Internet.
So could education benefit from its own version of the Pentagon-led research agency?
The Obama administration thinks the answer is yes. Its proposed 2012 budget includes $90-million to kick off the effort, conceived as a way to support development of cutting-edge educational technologies.
Why the need for a new agency? Education research and development is “underinvested,” argues James H. Shelton III, assistant deputy secretary for innovation and improvement in the U.S. Education Department. A new agency—its name would be “Advanced Research Projects Agency-Education”—would have more flexibility to identify specific problems and direct efforts to solve them, he says. Plus, it would be able to attract top outside talent to work on these projects.