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National Education Standards: Been There, Didn’t Do That
Posted By Lindsey Burke On November 5, 2012 @ 3:16 pm In Education | 2 Comments
While 46 states have jumped on the national education standards bandwagon, it’s not too late to hit the brakes. We’ve been down this road before.
During the 1990s, the push to nationalize standards and testing reached a fever pitch. There were the infamous national history standards, which were so poor (no mention of the Apollo 11 moon landing; not a single mention of the Constitution; the absence of Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and the Wright brothers) that the U.S. Senate rejected the resolution 99–1.
President Bill Clinton’s Goals 2000: Educate America proposal, coordinated with his 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called for states to establish standards and tests aligned with national models. While technically voluntary, ESEA funding was conditioned on states shifting toward standards-based reform.
In what sounds remarkably similar to the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top grants, in 1994, Education Week  described the Clinton-era effort as one in which “states agree to set content and performance standards and draft reform plans in exchange for federal grants.” And as The Washington Post wrote in 1995 , the effort had significant support:
It was once hailed as the next great hope to improve the nation’s schools, a landmark measure embraced by nearly every governor, approved with bipartisan votes in Congress and praised by countless leaders in education and business.
But despite the significant momentum behind the effort, the idea of establishing national standards and tests was ultimately rejected. States and local school districts understood that Washington was overstepping its bounds to an unprecedented extent and chose instead to retain their educational sovereignty.
The eulogy of the Common Core national standards initiative could read just the same. If state and local leaders, school superintendents and teachers, parents, and taxpayers fight against this latest—and perhaps greatest—federal overreach into what is taught in schools across America, it just might.
The movement to nationalize standards and testing—and ultimately curricula—is costly in terms of liberty, not to mention dollars. State leaders who believe in limited government and liberty should resist this imposition of centralized standards. States should consider these three strategies:
We’ve been here before. States ultimately chose the path of liberty in determining education content in the 1990s and should do so again. Instead of abdicating responsibility for standards and assessments—and ceding more control over education to Washington and national organizations—state leaders should exit this national standards boondoggle . It’s not too late.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2012/11/05/national-education-standards-been-there-didnt-do-that/
URLs in this post:
 in 1994, Education Week: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1994/12/07/14advice.h14.html
 Washington Post wrote in 1995: http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-853919.html
 $16 billion in implementation costs: http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf
 exit this national standards boondoggle: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/04/states-must-reject-national-education-standards-while-there-is-still-time
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