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  • State-Based Reform, Not National Standards, Key to Better Education

    “America’s economic strength and standing in the world economy are directly linked to our ability to equip students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy….We must insist on standards that will prepare our high-school graduates for the demanding challenges they will face.”

    So wrote former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) along with former Chancellor of New York City schools Joel Klein last week in a Wall Street Journal editorial arguing for the Common Core—a set of nationwide education standards.

    No one would disagree with the statement above, but will national standards—already backed by federal funding—accomplish that worthy goal?

    No. Centralized education policy has failed to raise standards of excellence for almost a half-century and doesn’t address the fundamental problems in education today. Furthermore, national standards present the risk of states accepting a middle-of-the-road, lowest common denominator education standard. Simply put, the implementation of national education standards cedes even greater control to Washington and weakens the decision-making power of those closest to students.

    Even Bush and Klein clearly affirm the authority of states in leading education reforms, noting, “It is the states’ responsibility to foster an education system that leads to rising student achievement.” They argue that the “common standards” are simply a product of the states because they “were voluntarily developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.” In reality, the Obama Administration has made the standards a focal point of its education agenda at every turn, incentivizing their adoption through Race to the Top funds and proposing to make federal Title I dollars—the largest federal source of K–12 education funding—contingent on a state’s adoption of the standards.

    In contrast to such centralized policymaking, Governor Bush’s own record shows the power of state-level systemic reform. It is his bold education reforms in Florida—rather than the federal No Child Left Behind—that are setting the standard nationwide for effective education reform.

    Florida’s reforms sought to improve educational achievement by making schools more accountable to those closest to the students—parents and taxpayers. Policies require schools to be graded annually and also give families the ability to choose where their child is educated. As a result, students in Florida are thriving, and the achievement gap between minority and white students is narrowing. In 2009, both Hispanic and Black fourth-graders in Florida saw their reading scores improve at twice the rate of the national average.

    It is these types of state-led reforms, rather than national standards, that are needed to increase academic achievement. Instead of taking another step towards centralized education policy via national standards, states must have the flexibility to tailor their education systems to meet their students’ needs. Recently, Representative John Kline (R–MN) announced a series of policies that do just this, eliminating unnecessary and duplicative federal education programs and allowing states the ability to determine how they use federal education dollars. Such legislation would give states greater freedom to implement plans similar to those in Florida, which not only provide mechanisms to make schools more accountable to parents but also empower parents and students with school choice.

    Rather than increasing federal power with national education standards, states need greater freedom to implement the reforms necessary to ensure that children, not Washington bureaucrats, are number one.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to State-Based Reform, Not National Standards, Key to Better Education

    1. Stirling says:

      Before the Department of Education was established we had 50 individual states providing a test enviroment for best practices for each states needs, and our country as well. Running everything from washington d.c limits our countries ability to "inovate" and limits states ability to cater to it's individual workforce needs to grow local economies.

      National Standards by definition have to cater to the lowest common denominator rather then to set the bar "high" and accept that some people will not make the grade. If the individual states set the bar they would have the freedom to use a more specific benchmark rather then a national (dumbed down) number.

      Rather then try to emulate other "Big Government" countries that have "Centralized Planned Societies" we need to embrace the practices that our country was founded on which catered to the Individual over the masses.

    2. Ron Jones says:

      I am just curious. Why wouldn't parents have a say in their child's education if schools had to meet national standards? If you look around the world at the results on standardized tests, the US ranks rather low as compared to Finland (#1), South Korea (#2) when the results of math and science tests are concerned. Having taught school for 44 years and having taught many, many foreign exchange students during that time, I hear the same comment: American schools are so easy as compared to our schools (Germany, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Vietnam, China). All of these countries have national standards and their students do well with them.
      I am just wondering why those countries do so well and the US does not when it comes to education.

      RJ (Maryland)

    3. Gail says:

      The Common Core Standards were not developed by the US Department of Ed or the federal government, rather through a collaboration among states — the states have come to recognize that working together provides the opportunity to combine and leverage resources and support one another. The USDE has supported this work by providing grant funds to states who CHOOSE to participate. They are not national standards and states have the option to choose whether to participate. Each state has been left to "go it alone" and now has the opportunity to have similar expectations and share in the collective development of resources.

    4. Bobbie says:

      All "common core standards" do is eliminate free thinking by government restrictions which prohibits the students ability to freely reach a potential. The teachers method is not their own but now mandated to reflect "fed government" indoctrinates the feds call "standards" to comply with fed government's national will to reflect every student as "equally educated" or equally indoctrinated. Narrowing of the mind! Social engineering by government influence!

      Kids have been properly educated in socialism. Kids lack signs of intellect in regard to the knowledge of freedom as if they're less than human. It's unconstitutional and an unlawful imposition to the states. It's over the line and wrong to purpose but by bribe! Absolutely preposterous and underhanded!

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