An Ol’ Broad’s Ramblings

February 19, 2007

Learning

Filed under: Education — olbroad @ 10:11

THINKING ABOUT EDUCATION

A report released last week by a Washington think tank recommends that Congress consider several changes to the No Child Left Behind Act when it debates renewal this year. One proposal is for national standards.

Not all kids are the same, however, if you are going to pass a kid from one grade to another, you might want to make sure they earn the “promotion”.

The problem, according to advocates of national standards, is that all those standards aren’t standardized. Maine might require fractions in one grade and California in another. Another state may not emphasize critical thinking. And standards in some states, such as Texas, are very detailed, while in others they’re looser.

I’m not an educator, but I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to have the same standards in every state. People tend to move from state to state and the kids will either be behind in their new school, or way ahead.

True, critics of standardized testing are warning that No Child is dumbing down the curriculum and turning students into intellectual robots. But some influential pundits – including conservatives who once fought the idea – are hailing national standards as a way to make schools more rigorous. (If this justification sounds familiar, you’re right. Restoring rigor is the call to arms behind many education fixes.)

They need to raise the standards, not lower them even more than they already are now. Kids aren’t being challenged, and they get bored. When kids are bored, trouble is bound to occur. (And I thought money was the fix for education…go figure.)

Two big arguments for national standards are that they would help schools prepare all students to compete in the global marketplace and that they would make sure children of all economic levels, in cities and in small towns, have access to the same high expectations.

The way things are right now, we expect too little from our kids. Perhaps if we raise the standards, the kids will have higher expectations from themselves.

National standards are worth debating. I believe we’ll have them someday. But the top priority now needs to be finding the political grit to provide the resources necessary for all kids to get a good education. That’s the only way to improve rigor in all schools and make sure all students are ready for college or good jobs.

I find the idea of anyone not approving of high standards for students seriously lacking in conscious. Or there are big bucks in not wanting our kids to succeed (unions, welfare pimps, etc.).

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