Panel Proposes Single Standard for All Schools

The new standards, which experts said could well be adopted by a majority of states, would replace the nation’s checkerboard of locally written standards.

Comments: 125

  1. Jack Meoph-- I agree with your sentiment, but your second it's should not have an apostrophe. (Probably included in the standards--7th grade or so...)

  2. This is good if evolution is taught in every state and if intelligent design and creationism is ignored and mocked.

    The other important national standard to encourage is better teaching of civics and history.

  3. Will home schoolers be required to meet these standards?

  4. Motto: Education is not a right, it is a privilege; it does not end at graduation, it is a life-long endeavor.

    The main focus and endgame of education should be to equip students with the necessary tools to become responsible, productive citizens. If you have ever listened to (average) man on the street interviews, then you are aware of what a disgustingly poor caliber of citizen our schools are producing. Sad to say, but the majority of college freshmen don't know how to spell, can't write to be understood, don't know how to follow instructions, and are more focused on having a good time than learning. It doesn't take more money to improve education. It takes e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y getting truly serious about producing good citizens for the future.

  5. Can somebody please point me to the place in our Constitution where the Federal government is given the authority to set educational standards? Looks to me like more creeping federal control with all the stench that comes with it. Hopefully some of the states will see fit to challenge these "standards" on the grounds that they are an encroachment into the province of state governments. Somehow whenever the Feds come up with new "standards" they seem to morph into mandates, usually unfunded. "No Child Left Behind" was an abomination, leading to endless teaching to the test and causing the removal of art and music from most curricula.

    I am hoping that we might be entering into an era where the citizens of this great land will wake up and understand that our elected officials, for the most part, no longer have the best interests of their constituents at heart. The abysmal approval ratings of Congress and Obama's plummeting popularity may be signaling a sea change, one that hopefully will alter the relationship of the states to the federal government back toward the balance the founders intended. Washington does nothing well, the answer is to give them much, much less to do and much, much less money to do it with.

  6. Being a retired teacher I feel it is the reinvention of the wheel AGAIN..with each new administration there is a new "Purpose" and the ones to come out on top are the textbook companies. When I was teaching 10 weeks out of a school was spent on state or district mandated tests and it has gone up since 2002. Creativity and problem solving are gone. Art, music, sports...on the cut list. Wake up America...Work ethic....!!! We are in a "world market" now, use it to teach...free thinking and exploration.

  7. aliceofpi #17 - yes, kids don't know ratios, but will standardization fix or even affect it?

    Where I am in New York State, ratios are currently introduced by word problems in elementary school. That's right - word problems. And how to set up a ratio? It's taught that that depends on how the word problem is worded. Setting up a ratio analytically according to the information wanted and the relationship between the values? That's "advanced". No need to get into that stuff for ordinary students, I heard from my son's teachers.

    Horrifying. But it makes sense to the overwhelmingly verbally-oriented people who make up the ranks of elementary school teachers.

    Subject area to be covered, but not method, is what will be standardized. If methods are standardized as well - for all we know the horrible methods will be what is mandated.

  8. Texas and Alaska? Their Perry and Palin (ex Gov)) enough said.Maybe if their education standards were higher 40 years ago we would not have to listen to these shortsighted individuals who want to secede.(Traitors) Good leave them out and just return what taxes they give to the federal govt every year. They soon would be able to blend easily with their neighbors Mexico and Russia. The Texas Board of Education is an example of how unamerican these people are. It is shocking to meet people who graduated from University and don't have a clue about History and Georgraphy . Hope this works . It will keep us competative with the rest of the developed world and save us from listening to people who should be having a cup of tea instead of wearing it on their heads and insulting the USA

  9. Based on the examples given for English and math, I would expect oppostion, potentially lawsuits, from groups that would consider the standards to be culturally and racially biased. The diversity principles now sought in all sectors of our lives preclude any notion of rigor in education, academics and learning.

  10. I teach for Clark County School District in Nevada (Las Vegas area), and we probably have the most transient student population of any of largest ten districts. As an American Literature teacher, I'm faced with the challenge of teaching many students with educational backgrounds from all over the country, and the lack of a coherent national standard is at the heart of that challenge. I can't count on my students coming to my class knowing how to write a complete sentence, I can't count on my students coming to class with a basic knowledge of literary terms, and I can't even count on my students coming to my class knowing who the Pilgrims were. Will national educational standards solve all the problems of education? Of course not, but they will help solve a big one.

  11. Having dated several wonderful teachers (currently as well), I can't help but think that none of this will matter. Beyond the fact that there are clearly people on this panel with an agenda, and not the agenda of making sure the truth is told, we need to look in the mirror. Parents are the biggest failure this country produces. It's not the partisan media, the country rednecks or self important city a-holes. The problem is that parents are lazy, incompetent themselves and our government does nothing but provide them fertile ground in which to sow their seeds.
    The best parents in the world don't coddle, they know how to say, "NO!". That's what our government fails to do every day.

  12. Just a little tidbit of information to throw out there. Part of why America's test scores are so low to the rest of the developing world? They don't test ALL their students, only the smartest. That's why their test scores are so high. Consider that we test every single student, our scores are going to be lower.

    With that said, yes, we need an education reform, but not just in math, and English, we need an entire overhaul to include the arts and music as well. If our children don't receive a well round FULL education that feeds the academic and creative as well, then we will just produce a bunch of drone robots who are good at math at English, and what is the point?

  13. I knew it! International education expert says US "Schools are inheriting an overentertained, distracted student."

    For more read: http://www.nytimes.com...

  14. #5: "Reagan warned against such foolishness but we are getting sucked into a progressive nightmare."

    Wasn't Reagan the guy who said that Ketchup and Mustard should be considered vegetables in the school lunch program? Let's call the wing nut's bluff and hand the Whole Education Department over to Texas.
    Then kids can learn about talking snakes and how the Earth is 6000 years old. What do you expect out of a country that still can't learn the understood standard of global science, the metric system (even our military uses it). Ah, yes. It was divined by the socialist French.
    Can't use that, no matter how logical it would be. Probably because 40% of American's have a 2.5mm attention span (that's 1/10th of an inch for all you flat Earthers out there).

  15. Good grief, Perry! Raise the bar. We're quickly sinking into an educational cesspool here!

  16. For high schools, every state should take and be mandated to pass the New York state board of regents exams. That would be a great standard.

  17. "...but instead offer a list of texts “illustrating the quality, complexity and range” of student reading.." It's a sure bet that the standards are "values neutral" too. Heaven forbid that books would be recommended that would transmit the values and wisdom of Western civilization.

    It's all "diversity" and multicultural drivel for our children.

  18. Comments suggesting that national standards cannot work in a large country are rather provincial. Math standards in Japan, Denmark, Spain, Australia are pretty much the same, and they are effective. What makes people think that Connecticut needs different math than Texas? Get over yourselves. You are not that special.

  19. Just finished grading exams for a junior/senior college course in ecology. The students were not allowed calculators as the exam only required very simple math and we wished to reduce the likelihood of cheating. The number of students who could not perform simple math calculations was astounding. I am talking about multiplication/division by ten, converting a simple (regular) fraction to its decimal, and adding decimals (0.16 + 0.8 + 0.8 = 0.32???). Seriously. These are college seniors and juniors.

    Our children have no idea how to excel at college because they have no idea how to excel at high school or middle school or grammar school. There is no teaching on how to structure your studying, no one is ever taught how to really learn something or how to logic through a problem or statement. Learning is more than the memorization of facts and regurgitating them on command to the evil bubble sheets. Until we get politicians out of the classrooms all we are going to hear is politically correct garbage. In reality, NOT all children learn in the same way, standardized multiple choice tests give you very little information on what sort of student took the exam and there is very little value to a head stuffed full of facts if the person cannot reason, weigh, evaluate or calculate. As the silly ads in which a person babbles factoids based on keywords heard in conversation demonstrate, the person has oh so much knowledge with no capability for application of that knowledge. The solution is much more complicated than setting national standards but it is a good first step. Next up should be finding ways to reduce the number of disruptive students, allowing teachers to give true grades instead of feel good grades and for heaven's sake, STOP promoting failing students. It may hurt their self-esteem for one year, they will get over it. Far better than having them fail for life.

  20. Fine by me, let's have some standards. As to Texas and Alaska, they can opt out if they want, just don't expect me to hire their high school graduates or admit them to the college where I advise on admissions if they don't have the skills and qualifications. As it is, too many schools turn out students that are inadequately prepared for college and require remedial work.

  21. The states of Alaska and Texas were the only two states that did not participate in this endeavor? Go figure!
    Governor Rick Perry of Texas said that Texans should decide what educational standards to adopt. Is this the same state that their former Governor and our former President, George W. Bush, asked the insightful question: "is our children learning?"
    Is he not one of the governors who opposed the ‘stimulus’ money and then later accepted some of it?
    Did Alaska's former Governor Palin opt out of this collaborative effort?
    Is she a product of Alaska's educational system? Is this the same Vice-Presidential candidate who was asked to name a Supreme Court case other than Roe v. Wade and she answered Kramer v. Kramer? Didn’t she also say she did not want to accept any ‘stimulus’ money, but later changed her mind?
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not disparaging all people from these two states. Barbara Jordan was a very bright and promising politician from Texas. I also understand that the Alaskan Malamutes and Inuits are great folks too.

    It is just these two governors I am referring to. I wonder if Jeff Foxworthy has tried to get both of them to appear on his, "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" program? That would be a great show to watch. I’m betting on the 5th graders.

  22. It’s impossible to know the value of this latest standards proposal unless one also knows how teachers and administrators will be educated to apply the standards, what their actual practices will turn out to be, and what kind of assessment, and with what stakes, will be connected with the standards. The essential problem is rarely with the standards themselves but with what these attempts at a comprehensive control of teaching and learning lead to in practice, especially when connected with assessment, which then drives absolutely everything, regardless of intention or what anyone says. The problem has become that all revenues are now distributed bureaucratically and control classroom teaching remotely from top-down. Until we begin to turn educational-bureaucratic thinking around to putting teachers more in the center, we will never achieve the goals for which we are striving. There are many, many things that simply cannot be effectively controlled bureaucratically or administratively. Teachers need autonomy to teach from strength and to adapt to specific situations. There needs to be a more healthy balance between their autonomy and the bureaucratic compulsion to standardize and manage. I am absolutely in favor of a continuing dialogue about standards, and I believe that the CCR is very impressive. I believe it is also potentially destructive if it is geared into a high stakes assessment system and if it is not balanced out by some power and autonomy for teachers, parents, and our other on-the-ground people.

  23. Vertical alignment is long overdue, as is adherence to an achievable set of standards, but what remains astonishingly lacking is the promotion of texts outside the confines of the canon. Little Women and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, while appealing to the generation that drafted the standards, are simply outdated in today's highly diverse classrooms and really only serve to limit a teacher's ability to engage modern students. Until federal and state education departments realize this, the achievement gap will continue to widen.

  24. #5 wrote:
    "Reagan warned against such foolishness but we are getting sucked into a progressive nightmare."

    Reagan has been proven to be a complete failure and will go down in U.S. history as one of the worst presidents, along with GWB and Hoover.

    But don’t worry about education, China and India have a combined population of 2.4 BILLION people and will soon produce 300 million college grads.
    Do you know what the total U.S. population is?

  25. You're kidding, right, Howie #33? In the first place, educators do not determine and levy taxes; legislators do. I don't know what the teacher pay scale in Florida is, but in Nevada, I earn close to the poverty line with 33 years experience and a doctoral degree equivalency. I could retire, but my monthly benefit wouldn't cover my house payment. Retire as millionaires? In my dreams...

    BTW, the school year may require schools to be in session 180/365 days of the calendar year, but teachers work weekends, through breaks, and take classes during the summer (at their own expense), not to mention that our days begin at 7:30AM and aren't over until late at night due to after school meetings and required professional development programs, supervision at extra-curricular events, assignment/test scoring, and lesson preparation. But, I'm sure you could do my job a great deal better than I!

  26. Figures Govna' Perry would assume Texans should have their own curriculum. What a pompous ass. Maybe he should just kick the federally funded schools--and their money-- out of texas and see what he's left with...a one room schoolhouse in east texas with a dirt floor and the 10 commandments as the lesson plan....dare i say, "God help us..." or as Perry might say, "Why don't you just let us get on down the road....?"

  27. Big question: Do we need smart? Rich can always buy smart from anywhere in the world. Also, how smart do you have to be to sell sub-prime mortgages or credit default swaps? It's not a lack of smarties that are leading us to 2nd tierdom; it is the rich-ies who can't stop gorging themselves on the financial sector that is leading us there.

  28. The best line about getting an education is that it's like standing up at a concert; if everybody does it a lot of the benefits disappear.

    For the motivated individual trying to get ahead education can be a big help. But the requirement for educated people in the aggregate is much less than commonly supposed (of course, the many who are ignorant don't see this). From the public polciy standpoint, only the top 10% need to be well-educated; the next generation of nuclear scientists, chemists, doctors, etc. For the next 40% high schiool plus a couple years of community college; for the rest they should be let out of high school at 16 at the latest - anything else is just marking time and they hate it anyway.

    The teacher's unions should be downsized in proportion - oh, except we can't do that because that would swell the ranks of the unemployed and destroy more consumer demand. Better to wait till the recession is over, if it ever ends....

  29. The biggest potential disaster to ever hit this nation. Educational quality has steadily eroded with the loss of local control. Federal intervention was necessary when blacks were denied equal access but the process created a hole where every form of social experimentation possible has taken time away from learning.

    The state, even a local entity can only school, not educate in the real sense of the word. Like it or not, only parents can educate and provide a holistic view of life. When they fail, churches are the last-ditch possibility of saving the situation because education has to provide values, which schooling cannot in a secular society.

  30. #100 wrote:
    "National standards will likely compromise strong education states such as Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas. It could be a race to the bottom."

    I think you and others are missing the point. The proposal is a minimum not a maximum. There is no reason for states to eliminate programs which are working or lower current standards to meet those of Texas and Alaska.

  31. We continually try to establish new ways to measure the output of education while we have not increased real inputs for about thirty years.

    The testing will continue, test makers will prosper and the results will not get any better.

    We might as well decide to make bread out of sawdust and then spend our money on elaborate taste tests to improve quality.

    - Wonks Anonymous

  32. When and only when parents are involved in their children's educational endeavors will the education system of any state work. Teachers can't make a child do their homeowrk or learn or do anything if the parents don't reinforce the notion of learning as a life long process. Also, let's stop collectively thinking that every child should be educated to go to college. Let's educate our children to be productive members of society whether they are blue collar or white collar employees. You do not need a college education to be an auto mechanic but you need to know the trade. Maybe we should model our educational system after the countries that seem to get it right; some go on to univeristy school some go on to vocational school.

    Creative/critical thinking skills might evolve more thoroughly in our children if they were required to develop an independent thought that has not been influenced by a culture that values the wrong things. Maybe if we turned off the "16 and Pregnant" and other such crap that over runs the airwaves our kids would be less addicted to drama and more addicted to the idea of getting a life that is worthwhile and productive.

    The problem is systemic but it starts at home and not in the schools.

  33. Critical and logical thinking - the most important tool anyone can have - can be learned but is not taught as a subject. It must be. There is no improvement in education without this.

    Motivate students by creating a path to graduating early thru achievement rather than forcing the standard 12 years of baby sitting that produces brain death. This makes education less expensive. It creates purpose in students rather than conformance to just show up.

    Gym and religion also have no place in acedemics. Both are there because of geographical politics and our sports culture. Separate gym and acedemics. I recommend run and play after school and go to church and church school on Sunday. Keep both of those out of the schools and save a ton of money.

    The separation of church and state should also remain in effect in public education. Non-science OR faith based theory should not be taught in public schools.

    Spend the saved money on teaching critical and logical thinking and therefor produce intellegent thinkers who make America a world role model and leader.

  34. Why are people always harping on the Unions! The biggest problem in education today is the LACK of QUALITY parenting! Kids failing has more to do with the type of home-life from which they come. Hard to turn ground beef into a steak no matter how you cook it...

  35. Standards are good, but limiting. We have de-emphasized vocational classes, social studies, and science too much, I think. Also, I have yet to see a standardized student. We need different branches of curriculum for different students. A one-size-fits-all education is not the best way. College bound students should be on one track, and vocational students should be on another.

  36. Yes, let's get rid of the unions.

    In colleges and universities, teachers don't have them, and you can see how it's better. About half the teachers there are kept part-time, without medical insurance, retirement funds, raises, or any possibility of promotion. Why, in one school I know, the part-time teachers do not receive raises for 12 years or more at a stretch, and then the raise is very, very small.

    It's been great for administrators who want new campus facilities, for students who like the new stadiums, apartments, and lounges--for everyone but the now-aging adjunct teachers, who teach more than full time hours for about $20,000 a year.

    Who needs unions?

  37. Not sure why there is such an uproar about standardization. If you really look at the standards, they only define concepts that they believe that students should know by a certain age. For instance, I would expect that a 2nd grader should at least know the ABCs. I however, don't believe that 11th graders are required to read The Great Gatsby, MLK's speech, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, and The Iliad all in a single year.

    The problem with the current standards required by NCLB is that it places a heavy focus on knowing a lot of details vs. knowing a lot of concepts. The national standard is attempting to redefine what we need to know in the 21th century yet it is keeping in mind the local flexibility that is necessary to foster creative thinking.

  38. In this mobile world, standardized teaching from state to state would be a major plus. As mentioned, this is not from the Obama administration, this is from educators and administrators. The money that we spend on education has very little return on our dollar. The teachers' unions in all states need to be trimmed (I am a member). The demands Unions put on school districts cripple the learning process. I think schools in NY are not educational facilities, they are retirement tanks. So much $$ for health insurance, retirement, sick days, on and on it goes, eat up our school budgets. We are taxed to death in NY and have horrible graduation rates. We need to focus on students and their learning. Yes, we need longer school days and more school days. The US is way behind the learning curve. Plus, and a big plus, parents need to be accountable for their own kids. Overseeing homework, etc. The state of "No Child Left Behind" doesn't want in.... what does that tell you about education in Texas? Our kids are not the best educated and should be for the money we spend. Something is drastically wrong with the whole educational system in this country and perhaps for this idea, the time has come to change things.

  39. Once again, Rick Perry is showing how un-American he is and his state is. He wants to keep the kids in his state stupid and uneducated, and the Federal Government should vote on making this mandatory. Lets do to him what we did to George Wallace to end segregation. Texas is NOT a sovereign nation, and his perdition should not go unpunished.

  40. I am taken aback by how low these proposed "standards" actually are in math. No multiplication till grade 3? This country is in trouble.

  41. What happened to America's "Local Control of Ecucation"? That used tobe something we were proud of as a nation.

  42. As long as student achievement is still being measured by standardized test scores,as it will following this proposal, we are still missing the mark regarding children actually LEARNING. When have standardized tests measured anything but "cultural fluency", regarding what "all" children should know without taking into account the multicultural nation that we are, and whether or not a student is good at taking standardized tests. Having students respond to questions that are not geared to preparing them for the future or for lives as fully functional, productive, thinking and contributing CITIZENS is a waste of time. If the past 30 years haven't taught us that, how can we expect to teach anything?

  43. To Pete (#13): While I agree that my mistake makes me look quite foolish, I stand by the substance of my comment (#3) - these standards offer no real guidance for teachers presenting similar material to different grade levels. I'm all for national standards, but not ones like these. In 3 years of middle school, the only difference in student writing is that it is supposed to be done more purposefully and effectively (see p41 #3a, #3d of the ELA standards PDF)? The wording of the standard makes it useless for teachers and students alike. A student in a 6th grade classroom will learn the same exact thing 2 years later because there has been no clear differentiation in the standard. The difference between "Choosing words and phrases to develop the events" and "Choosing words and phrases to effectively develop the events" is neither clear nor helpful in distinguishing how to present the material to an 8th grade classroom. Perhaps instead, this small section should have explicitly stated what makes students write more effectively. For instance, the correct use of adverbs (thanks again, Pete) throughout a narrative. Surely these standards could have been more substantive and less ambiguous, but leave it to a bunch of teachers to come up with something subpar.

  44. First, I applaud the move--finally!!!--to focus on curriculum and standards, although I question not introducting multiplication and division in second grade. (That's when I learned it in a public school in, yes, Houston, Texas back in 1970.) I know there's going to be a lot of Texas bashing over Rick Perry's rejection of national standards, but I can also understand wariness by some state officials to adopt "standards" that are less than those already demanded in certain states and/or school districts. Texans are probably much more likely to read Mark Twain in middle school and Henry David Thoreau in high school (not to mention Frederick Douglass and Richard Wright)than New Yorkers, honestly.

  45. I'm pretty sure we don't want any education standads advocated by Obama. The way he jumps from cause to cause before finishing ANYTHING shows me he suffers from Attention Deficeit Disorder!

  46. I think all of the "standards" that are being proffered in the link given in the article are far too mechanical. These standards seem to rest first on the assumption that a student's ability to learn depends solely on the student's age and second on the assuption that academic jargon in the graduate schools of english, mathematics and education have some overriding validity.

    For example, the mathematics standards for the grade school seem to assume that a 4th grader can understand and apply numbers up to 100 or 1000 but it is not until the 5th grade that they can handle numbers from 10,000 to 100,00. This is nonsense. If a student understands what is meant by 10 to the first power, 10^1, they can instantly expand that to 10 to the any power, 10^n.

    My ideal curriculum would be based on the idea that learning depends on giving the students the time and intellectual space to develop and master a vocabulary sufficient to express what they are thinking in a way that other people can understand and a vocabulary that allows the student to access any topic that may interest them in the future.

    Along these lines, I suggest that a foreign language be introduced very early, at about 3rd or 4th grade. Not because one wants the student to be bilingual but because many, if not most, native English speakers have no interest in learning English grammar. This is because nothing is more difficult for the teacher or more tedious to the student than teaching or learing something that the student thinks they already know. For native English speakers, I suggest that teaching German would be particularly useful simply because the two languages are so similar. Further, studying German would alert the student to how odd English spelling conventions really are. I also suggest lots and lots of simple writing exercises.

    For mathematics, I suggest lots and lots of counting and geometric exercises but always in the context of asking the student to justify what they are doing with reference the axioms of real numbers and the axioms and common notions set out in Euclid.

    The overriding objective in grade school should be to provide the student with a vocabulary sufficient to allow them expalin what they are doing and a vocabulary that allows them to access any material they may need as they pursue what interests them as they teach themselves through out their lives.

    My final point is that sometimes it just takes time. Not all students learn at the same rate and teachable moments happen when they happen, independent of the lesson plan or standard. Through the 5th or 6th grades, schools should focus on lingusitic and mathematical literacy. The rest will naturally follow naturally depending on what may capture the student's interest.

  47. As with No Child Left Behind, no mention of science. Too controversial, I guess.

  48. When will everyone realize that the most important impact on children learning is the classroom teacher, the person the child is with for most of the day during the school year? Standards, testing, computers are minor when compared to the quality of the instructor. The best teachers should be paid six figure salaries, while the weak teachers need to be fired. Until federal and state governments accept this, and teachers unions allow this, America's public school system will continue to be mediocre. [By the way, I'm a 21-year veteran high school English teacher, author of "Smart Kids, Bad Schools" and "The $100,000 Teacher", writer of the blog at brian-crosby.com]

  49. It's clear from the comments that the majority of posters have not yet looked at these standards.

  50. There is one thing to be sure, that national standards will not change these facts: that students do less homework after school and therefore do less studying, (if teachers assign work it doesn't get done) they have less time with their parents and therefore hear fewer words and have a lower vocabulary (they are not read to, granted this is not entirely a parent's fault who works two jobs or works nights) for entertainment they read less books and watch more TV and video games which provide instant gratification, and they have less respect for education because it isn't as valued in the home. How is changing standards going to change that fact? Can't we focus on the root causes of students who are not motivated to learn instead of playing administrative shuffleboard by writing up more pointless mission statements, learning objectives and, geez!, more rewording of curriculum and standards ad infinitum until we're blue in the face. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting new results. Structural changes are needed, not more words and paper.

  51. Setting standards and goals is laudable. Before you implement the standards, make sure that there is one that is added that mandates the student take the test for a grade, first. Doing poorly on a graded exam will tell you that the student doesn't care and will put down any answer just to fill in the blanks. Make them understand that failing the test, and failing the competency test or the standardized test has a PENALTY. Too many soft rewards and far, far softer discipline for poor performance allows students to slack off, do little to nothing, and expect to get a free pass. It is also time for parent involvement to be focused upon and made mandatory. If they don't care or won't participate, what motivation does the child have? NONE.

    Temper all standardized test and their results with demographic data. Determine how long the child has been at their school, how many grades they have completed, and indicate whether they are native English speakers or whether the home language is English or another language, and if the parents speak English. Children from homes where English is not the first language, is spoken only occasionally by visitors, and where the child is the first in the family to go to a school where English is the language of instruction and testing will usually have a harder time reaching proficiency. They have little support to back up what they learn and cannot become proficient as quickly as English speaking homes.

    It has been said a thousand times and will be said a thousand more, the teacher is only one part of the education team. That person cannot be an individual tutor, counselor for children from broken homes or children who are victims of neglect or abuse. They have 20 to 30 (or more) in their charge and all are expected to meet proficiency. In some classes, that will never happen. IF and WHEN politicians learn that, and understand that, MAYBE there will be a realistic evaluation of STUDENT PERFORMANCE. Teachers can spend days in individual instruction, but if a student decides not to perform, or to learn, the result will look bad on the teacher. That is not right. Retention should be made mandatory for any child who fails to show proficiency. The alternative - fund a summer school program for the wayward and lazy on a one-time basis to allow them to get proficient and to show them that laxity and indifference are not the way forward. The headaches of the system will go away quickly. Should a high school student choose to drop out, instead of being retained, that student should be informed that they will be returned to the system, unless they have a job.

    Take the load off of the teachers and spread it around to all of the parties involved.

  52. I hope that evolution is included and so-called "intelligent design" is not.

  53. Some great comments, pro + con!!
    Here are some problems:

    under-educated parents (w/their own learning disabilities, socioeconomic and racial disadvantages) have a harder time motivating their children to engage in education when they themselves were discouraged.

    fractured, decentralized, national education that favors a "Banking-approach to Education" (children are viewed as "empty vessels" awaiting information deposits).

    Banking-like school hours: start the school day later (8am) + finish later (5-6pm), so that children are supervised + safe; afternoons ought to be used for team endeavors (art, drama, soccer, yoga) + study.
    (Obviously, many parents work 7am -- 3pm + overnight shifts, + are single parents).

    "Problem-posing Education" is the answer.
    Children need stimulation. Passionate + compassionate teachers can reach young minds when they are comprehensively supported by school officials (+ cirriculum) who recognize that a "banking approach to education" does not encourage creativity or critical inquiry (Paulo Freire).

  54. #26 wrote:
    "... And U.S. students once did quite well among those in industrialized countries--now they're near the bottom in international rankings. We have a big problem, folks, and it's a national disgrace."

    Part of the problem is looking backwards. Many people fondly remember the 50's and early 60's as America's golden years of education and jobs but fail to recognize that America was the only economy left standing after WWII. It took France 20 years to clean up D-Day beaches while rebuilding population, schools and industry. The same with the rest of Europe and Japan.
    At the same time America was letting its industrial capacity rust along with its educational system because jobs were readily available for non-college HS grads. All of that ended with the start of the Vietnam war era and Japans developing industrial might.
    If America wants to regain its lost industries it must put education first for the countries greatest asset, its young people.

    America can start by creating national standards and paying teachers a middle class salary capable of supporting a middle class family while expecting teachers to perform like professionals.

  55. Oh goody! As a teacher at a ghetto high school in California, we are JUST barely getting to the point where we feel ALMOST on top of the recent tidal wave of massive changes to our approach... just in time for the next wave. Publishing houses and test-makers must be looking to cash in yet again - they have been making a killing in recent years, and appear poised to kill again. Never mind that it will blow up everything we've been working to establish for about six years now. Of course, THAT wave blew up everything that we had been working on before that. And, before THAT... well, you get the picture.

  56. On behalf of teachers everywhere, I resent the comments here that insinuate that teachers are the problem.

    Every profession has its bad apples, and teaching is no exception. But not one of you--not ONE--has the courage or motivation to, every weekday, try to teach kids who are malnourished, mistreated, and living in poverty.

    And all for less than what a fast-food manager makes.

    Now, stop criticizing that of which you know absolutely nothing and go back to whining about who has the better football team. And then think about how your myopic, tea-bagged view of the world has contributed to the rampant illiteracy in this country.

    As for the teachers, you should be bowing before them for their willingness to put up with YOUR kids' BS for eight hours--and yours, too, for that matter.

  57. A common academic standard requires a common anthropology. Whether we ever had one or not in America, we certainly don’t have one now.

    Sure enough, outside of Mathematics and Grammar the proposed standards are utterly devoid of content. Follow the link and read them. Note there are no sections for Science, Civics, or Ethics/Values/Religion. Instead there are “Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies & Science,” where curricula are tested for whether they inculcate- what?- ‘critical thinking’, I guess.

    Critical thinking is of no value without critical knowledge, and we have fallen completely apart on what is true or, indeed, whether anything can be true.

  58. The only “national standard” that seems to always be missed is the “national standard of what it takes to make it work” (for the lack of a better term). Mentioning that children should be able to climb mountains by the 7th grade doesn’t say very much. Really, take the time to think about it. Think about everything that is involved in climbing a mountain and realize that education (teaching and learning) is actually more complicated and still has the risks of the unexpected. People who spend all their time thinking up standards and demanding greater something or other have too much idle time on their hands.

    Furthermore, for every “degreed” person in this country there are a minimum of ten non-degreed people who provide vital and essential services and skills that the college educated people couldn’t live without. What would our country be like if the garbage man had a degree in economics?

  59. I do get a laugh when people talk about the need to "teach" critical and logical thinking as a subject (e.g. comment 159). How can one think critically without a large base of background knowledge? How can you have a logical thought if you don't have knowledge with which to weigh your choices?

    This is where our education schools have been getting it wrong for way too long! They churn out teachers with a mission to teach kids how to be 'critical thinkers' while refuting the need for cold, hard knowledge. And, no, knowledge does not consist of an arbitrary set of facts. Nor is it measured by whether a student can memorize and regurgitate dates and names. But a student does need to be able to explain the significance behind those dates and names, and that is the basis of critical thought.

  60. "For a start, expand the length of the school day. Make it the same as a work day."

    What ever happened to 'playtime' as a vital part of growth and development. It's amazing to me that schools back in the 40's, 50's and 60's managed to turn out people who landed a man on the moon, etc. They managed to get out of school at 3 and were able to achieve quite a lot. They made education a priority.

    If we're really looking for the reason our education system is in the toilet, let's start by looking at the impact of TV, video games, and the decline of literacy in this country along with the repercussions of the destruction of family.

    Do we need national standards? It's worth a try. But, before we imply that the reasons for our 'failing schools' is lack of national standards, or teachers unions, or not enough testing... lets look at the society we've become, and the fact that so many can't or won't make education a top priority for their children.

  61. There already is a national standard for the 8th grade.

    It is called the national tests for the 8th grade given every two years by the federal government.

    Currently there are only national tests of the federal government for the 4th and 8th grade in Reading and Math every two years. Test should be added for the 12th grade and the tests should be given every year by the federal government.

    By the way the government has still not released the results of the Reading tests given in 2009. It is over a year since these tests were given. At this point it looks like there has been a foul up regarding these tests or the results are so poor the government wants to hold off releasing them. The results of the Math test were released last year.
    http://nces.ed.gov...

    As for standards for Reading it is absurd to detailing what books should be read and at what grade for every public school in the nation. A child should be able to read and the evidence of this ability is a national test. It does not matter whether that child learned to read from a book by E.B. White or Bill Peet.

    Teachers in classes should pick the books that they feel are most appropriate for teaching children the joys of reading and not a book by selected by some designated government official.

    Public schools should teach children how to read. The only way to determine if that is being done well is national tests where the differences through out the nation are made insignificant by the large number of students taking the test.

    Standards in Math makes sense but in reading the only standard is that an individual can read or not read.

    There are serious problems in public school education and the federal government is only contributing to those problems.

  62. This is an interesting set of standards. In the U.S, politicians, businessmen, parents and educators complain about the state of science and engineering. However, they pay limited attention to the quality of science taking place in nation's classrooms. By including math and literacy in these core standards and leaving science out, what type of message are we sending to our school administrators? Don't spend money on labs?

  63. I will never forget the likes of my grade school teacher Mrs Daniels. She was about 150 years old, ageless, hair tied in a bun, well groomed. In other words, she stood out, every step, a language. Of course, she was, well loved, hated, perhaps. A throwback from the British era, where good grammar and the correct usage of speech, were the stepping stones of Education. Fast forward to the American standard of Education. The classroom is a zoo. Most students cannot read, moreso, exhibit proper penmanship, even good manners. It seems, that, they have declared war on the English language and embraced stupidity. Words like, y'all, yo, We is, we was, and bro. I think a good foundation for education starts in the classroom. Is this the kind of language our young future Leaders are being taught? Wake up, you Educators, let us do the Mathematics! My mental factorum assures me, that, about 90% of foreign students are getting higher grades than American born individuals.

  64. There is no enumerated federal constitutional right to an education. Constitutionally, the matter of education was left to the people. Our states confer such a right because the people of the state mandated it through their representatives.

    The federal government is engaged in a power grab. A "one size education" does not fit all. By mandating and testing "federalized curriculum" then evaluating and rewarding schools on the basis of those tests, the feds ensure that curriculum will be trained to the near-exclusion of anything else. A similar system worked in Hitlerite Germany and in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

  65. Maybe Rick Perry and Sarah Palin should sit down all cozy like, and come up with their own humdinger of a plan. Those are the two people I'd pick to decide what my child should learn about geography, science, history, math, and English! God help us all.

  66. I think both the 48 agreeing states and the 2 dissenting states have some good merits to bring to this discussion. I recognize the desire of the 2 dissenting states to retain their control vis a vis The Constitution and the fact that it does not give the Federal government the right to dictate education therefore a right reserved to the state and to the people. At the same time, The Constitution was meant to be a living document, not stagnated but updated and improved as society itself was updated and improved (womens suffrage and end to slavery) to name a few bare minimum items of societal improvement. That being said, I think we do live in a less regional more global society than when the Constitution was written. Erego, I would propose that there is a Federal level standard of minimum core learning objectives that is expected out of each and every child graduating High School. That is to say, lets come to a national consensus on a standard educational paradigm that any kid from anywhere should have. As long as the individual states are meeting that standard, any subjects they want to focus on in addition, I have no problem with that. If kids in Texas have a history class that teaches about the Alamo and the Oil Rush and kids in California learn about the Gold Rush and the Spanish Missions, thats great. There should be nothing wrong with wanting to have education with regional influences to continue to foster diversity in our national intellectual mix if you will. The problem is when you have kids from NY or Cali that can do Calculus and the kids from MI and AR have trouble with basic linear algebra. We don't need to completely remove the states, we need to hold them to a national standard and then after they have met that standard let them be creative from there. With this plan it would be critical that the Teacher's Unions don't water down the National standards from inception. That would be a great battle lost for education in America.

  67. And now solidify the standards by denying Federal Department of Education funding to any state where state, county, city, board of education, school board, or home-schooled level administration does not adopt these standards within a 4-year period, losing 25% funding per year til it is all gone. Texas & Alaska can live in their warped little worlds of education while the rest of the country can finally excel with common standards.

  68. Another disaster looming on the horizon: federal standards in education.

  69. Although it would be great for 11th graders to read Walden, I think it's too high level for most high school juniors. However while these standards seem much higher than what is currently in place across most of the country, I believe this may be just what our education system needs to improve.

  70. Why worry about this. All we need to do is teach our children how to run register, not even a cash register, using CC at all the burger joints. We have out sourced all the jobs that require higher math and science.

  71. Maybe we ought to have a nationwide civics requirement, as some have suggested on this board. Ironically, perhaps that requirement would have helped some other commentators here understand why we don't have a national education standard (while other nations do). The answer is federalism: we're a nation founded on the concept of a purposeful division between state and national (federal) duties, rights, and authority. It's getting harder and harder to educate people about this concept--see, for example, some of the misinformed comments here--in this era of overwhelming federal governmental power.

    As an aside, what demeaning, absurd, and petty comments that make it up to the top of the reader recommendations. One-sided comments about demagogues--(what, we include Beck and Rush but not Stewart or Olberman?). Suggestions--are they really tongue in cheek anymore?--that we abandon Alaska and Texas? How vulgar to make such sweeping generalizations about fellow citizens. Isn't part of the whole 'liberal' creedo to be tolerant of diverse viewpoints? Many of the comments suggest a forgetfulness of those principles, comingled with a disrespect toward fellow Americans.

  72. So, one size fits all, after all?

  73. So, how is this different than "No child left behind?" Why aren't all of the Democrats and teachers unions complaining that we are teaching to the test instead of teaching?

  74. National education standards do not work in a federal republic.

    Our strength as a country is local innovation and experimentation. What works then is adopted in other places - and we advance.

    National standards will kill our innovation and mire our education system in its current pathetic state. The worst time to nationalize is when things are terrible because change comes so slow at the national level.

    Let local people decide their own way of life. It's the most liberal and it's the best way.
    ===========================
    You're kidding, right?

  75. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is to be applauded for his firm stand in maintaining the nadiral standards of Texas. "Ignorance is like a delicate exotic fruit;touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately, in [Texas]. at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever." How did Wilde know so much about Texas?

  76. Here we go again with one size fits all. We educate the individual child to the child's ability. Children will rise to the level of expectation we create provided they have the skills. With no thanks to the NCTE that made the ridiculous statement years ago that teaching the structure of the language does not help students to become better writers, children still need to learn basic skills for reading and writing (even on computers). English classes have to be more than reading literature and discussing how one "feels" about "the book" and which experience one has had that dovetails with "the book."
    We need teachers who are better trained in their craft and students who learn early on to demonstrate pride of workmanship in everything they do.

  77. Great! Now the US can join the ranks of Third World Nations that have a centralized control of education. Schools that excel will be held back and hampered by the nuisance of meeting the federal controls. I live in Costa Rica which has demanding centralized controls (by Latin American standards), and anyone with any money at all sends their kids to the best private schools they can afford. Centralized curriculum leads to rote learning, a lack of innovation, and political indoctrination.

  78. My best teachers helped me wonder. They help me to be inquisitive, to love learning, and be self directing. My experience with schools systems having those goals, is that they often have teachers who do not help students wonder, and become self directing because they follow a pre-planned curriculum in order to be certain of what they're doing.
    Richard Rohr states that the original sin is wanting to be certain. If we allowed students to explore what students find remarkable, interesting, and important for them, we would be a bit less certain, but far more educated. The training schools and many universities do is often for corporations rather than for powerful student learning. Grades and degrees have become much more important than student self direction, so that students often now do not know until someone else tells them they know.
    Classroom management is a ploy for over-control so that students learn obedience to authority. The books, Einstein and Zen: Learning to Learn, and Re-opening Einstein's Thought: About What Can't Be Learned from Textbooks elaborate on these ideas. Conrad P. Pritscher , Professor Emeritus, Philosophy of Education Bowling Green State University

  79. Let's make sure EVERY child starting first grade in a public school speaks English. When children don't speak English, it detracts from the time teachers have to spend explaining to non-English speaking children. This time should be spent teaching the curriculum to everyone present.

  80. If excellence in education and student performance has decreased then I don't think more nationalization is the path.I am tired of paying huge taxes for schools that don't teach what kids need to learn to be productive members of society. It is a lousy investment-- don't know how more standards will make a difference. I think parents-- all parents need to pay for their children's education because then they would have a tangible investment and need to have an active role in their child's learning. It is fascinating that Catholic schools with 40 kids in classes produced some of the most gifted scholars without "national standards." Texas has one of the best state university system so they must be doing something right.

  81. Many posters' believe that Alaska and Texas represent the lowest level of educational standards in the US - much worse are West Virginia, Arkansas and Maine!

  82. It is long overdue and I hope for the best. Why is Texas and Alaska refusing to be part of this? Can federal funding for education be reduced for their refusal?

  83. Other than certainly de-motivating and de-energizing truly creative and caring educators, I see the intention of the administration here as a push to collective-ize K-12 (nationalize). Parents, and society are the true "shapers" of standards in our schools. Innovative and caring parents promote success in our schools, not national standards. Every state already has their own base set of standards (in Colorado we have the CSAP). Why turn a very local problem over to the Fed? We don't like it. Here's the Link. http://www.corestandards.org...

  84. Have any of you ever looked outside to see what other countries are doing? A standard curriculum is not a bad thing.

    A few years ago I was put in the position of having to homeschool a child (we are expats . . .). I had to find a curriculum, but which one? My home state's (Ohio)? Where the child was born (Florida)? The English-language one we were geographically closest to (the UK . . . which at least has a standard curriculum)? What do you do?

    I ended up creating a melange of things, but drawing heavily on E.D. Hirsch's "Core Knowledge" series. Obviously, how I implemented this was up to me. (And although my husband and I have 13 years of college/post grad school between us, we felt unqualified to teach this first grader . . .)

  85. And so Alaska and Texas condemn their children to fall behind.

  86. Letting the government set educational standards is about as reasonable as letting the fox guard the chicken coop. It will, as all things do, just become a grab bag for the special interests and the thieves that people congress.

  87. How educated are the policy makers? Their level of true education (beyond 'did they go to college?') should be of tantamount importance. I bet it isn't. Scary.

  88. To donbi (#15), who said: "Rumor has it that NYC will be required to match Iowa standards......."

    If that's true, then that's good for the children of NYC. Iowa has some of the highest education standards and most successful schools in the country.

  89. Ok, Neo-Conidiots. Either, Obama wants to strengthen the unions...(Throw in Obama and the teacher's unions and you have the beginings of the total loss of parental influence. This sounds like a dictatorship with Obama as the Feurer. No thanks, to put it mildly), or he wants to kill them... (The Obama administration's intent is to privatize public schools, destroy teacher unions, and make charter schools the only "show" in town. Here's neoliberalism at work!). Get your stories straight, morons. I get so tired of the Republican press machine demonizing anyone who doesn't agree with them. Then, they claim that the Administration is silencing it's critics. Here's a hot newsflash. You can't have it both ways. If you want to eliminate the union, then you can't support the unions. And moron who said Obama as Der Fuehrer, you clearly didn't pay attention in Civics class. Hitler was a die-hard conservative who believed what you believe. He hated LIBERALS!. So, please, don't apply words to the man that you don't know the meaning of.

  90. I am curious what the panel thinks of the mandatory learning of foreign languages for elementary-high school aged students. I believe it is constantly to the detriment of our country to not have a push towards at least bi-lingual students. Learning languages like Mandarin, French, Arabic, and Spanish could better equip the majority of young Americans as they go out into the world. In my opinion it is a way to help America become a nation perceived as part of the world not closed off due because of linguistic barriers.

  91. There's another significant reason common standards will serve our students better - people move. Kids move between schools, districts, states. A new classroom is often covering vastly different material so the student's education is disrupted, sometimes over and over and over again - through no fault of their own. Common standards are a big win for students and families.

  92. It's a good start. I don't demand absolute perfection right off the bat, and this definitely isn't it, but it's a start. What I will mention, though, is that one of the critically limiting aspects of these standards is that they start (by necessity) at kindergarten. That's after the point when a child normally begins acquiring language skills, and many of them have a massive head start in areas like reading, counting, writing, and arithmetic.

    For instance, in my own education, I came into first grade comfortable with reading simple words, and arithmetic with numbers up to 12. Many of my classmates, by contrast, could not read or count when they entered first grade. While I'd like to think I'm a pretty bright guy, that doesn't entirely explain the difference between the students like myself who could pick things up quickly, and those who started effectively 2-3 years behind me.

    And that, in a nutshell, is why preschool education is so critical. 2-3 years of extra education when a student is 2-5 is probably at least as valuable as 2-3 years of extra education when a student is 22-25, and is considerably cheaper.

  93. I wasn't aware that the standards were the problem. I thought it was overcrowded schools and classrooms and the shrinking of the school budgets that were the problems. Our "brightest" kids seem more like robots than ever before. I think its time to develop children for their own sake rather than constantly driving them with the boogeyman of falling behind other nations. Who are all these other nations that are so smart and so whole.

  94. Governor Perry of Texas is a stubborn, partisan imbecile. He immediately looks at this effort and dismisses it (as will many Republicans) as the federal government trying to hijack our education system. Who doesn't immediately think "red neck" when they hear, "Only TEXAS should decide what TEXAS children learn"? This proposal -- if enacted -- would be an enormous help to everybody at every rung of our educational ladder. All teachers would know, at the beginning of a school year, what their students have been taught/exposed to and thus, where to start and where to finish by year's end. The government isn't looking to write lesson plans for our schools. It's simply setting universal goals for each grade level; how a teacher chooses to reach these goals is still his choice. Perhaps the following would soften a Republican heart: Imagine the child of a military family. These families often move several times during their child's education. If a student finishes the 5th grade in Pennsylvania and then his mother or father is moved to Texas, he should be able to pick up right where he left off in 6th grade. Governor Perry, on the other hand, would rather say, upon the arrival of such a student, "Hey, I don't know what they were teaching you up there in PA, but this is TEXAS. You'll be doing things our way, now." Everybody in our educational system needs to be accountable -- teachers, students and administrators alike. Setting universal learning standards is one step of that process, because it gets all students and teachers on the same page and focuses their attention. Intelligent people can disagree on what such standards (grade by grade) ought be, but to suggest that all of our students should go along learning along separate curves based on where they live is -- I daresay -- conservative white noise.

  95. Did you read what is called standards?

    This is absolutely pathetic -- an entire year spent accomplishing nothing. A decent federal governmentdocument would define a curriculum as well as the expected results for every grade level with a multitude of lesson plans and suggestions to parents as to how to reinforce learning at home when school is failing their child.

    Saying "Johnny will read at grade level." is absolute nonsense. What words should Johnny know (write down the entire working vocabulary expected for a mid-level learner to know by age X.) What words should Johnny be able to decode (pronounce).

    What are the books that it is recommended that Johnny read?

    What are all of the math skills Johnny needs in terms of number recognition. (PS conceptualizing often comes years after memorization given that -1 x -1 = 1 falls into a category called imaginary numbers!)

    What should Johnny know in the areas of social studies, science?

    What should Johnny know in terms of caring for his body and his living space?

    And what should phys ed consist of for Johnny at his age?

    Standards are not a curriculum --- and a national curriculum is what is desperately needed. (Sorry, grade school teachers should NOT have the option to select what they are going to teach. Several I knew left out Columbus because he treated the Indians badly. At university level, two from a class of 33 knew why we have a 4th of July.)

  96. The highest priority on Governor Rick Perry's agenda is promoting himself amongst the good old boys of Texas politics. It doesn't bother him or his cronies if our kids get a substandard education in public schools. As evidenced by our recent primary election, more than 50% of the Republicans in the state agree with him. Of course many of them are sending their children to private school.

  97. First, as to universal standards and all that, this approach will not spawn innovation or creativity--both of which are sorely needed for the Obaman world of 'Green' and 'cap' (not to mention a hybrid car whose brakes don't fail).

    Second, many comments here attest to the FACT that the role of parents in encouraging the educational motivation and interest of their children is paramount. And those children should be prepared by the school curriculum to enter a trade OR go to college, as 'soap-suds' #75 points out. God knows, we will continue to need good plumbers and car mechanics.

    Finally, to 'Max' #68: Don't worry: very soon there won't BE any 'rich people' for your kids to work for, or for you to vilify. Just don't bore us with pleas for more money for public ed--after billions of dollars over the past 15 years, what has it achieved?

  98. The problem with Texas opting out is that Texas is one of the largest textbook markets (rivalling California). Due to the scope of sales there, changes to Texas text books are mirrored in text books across the country, which means that if Texas wants to enforce a lower (or higher) standard, it will still ripple across the country.

  99. #21 Howie makes the clearest argument yet for this plan. He confuses privatization with liberalism. Perhaps if he had learned reading comprehension, he may have understood what he was writing.

    #191karenz . . . ! ! ! ! ! great ! ! ! ! !

  100. Oh hell yes, let's turn our education system over to the federal government . . . perhaps it will be as effective and efficient as Medicare/Medicaid; social security; or even the Post Office. This country is on the brink of insanity.

  101. The Federal Government has no business getting involved in education. The Constitution reserves this for the States. Besides Federal Standards tend to have a dumbing down effect as they search for a common but low denominator.

  102. I am not opposed to national standards in English and Mathematics. I am concerned about the lack of standards for other subjects that are critical for a well educated society--like fine arts, science, history, civics,geography, economics, and practical stuff lsuch as how to buy, prepare a meal (used to call this Home Economics), how to use basic tools and fix simple things, and physical education - learning how to use and maintain a healthy body for life . I think our country is missing the boat by focusing only on English and Math.

  103. I guess this is a good idea, but every one of those goals reads like a lesson plan: "Discuss the differences and similarities between drama and prose. Give examples of each." I'd much rather a kid were reading plays and prose--and enjoying them. Whether they can identify stage directions? To me it seems meaningless. And whether they can do this in 4th grade, or 5th, or 7th...again, what's the difference? But getting kids to read plays, pick one to perform, putting it on themselves. That would teach all the above and more, in a way that would be a lot more fun and engaging. I think I'd be bored silly in a US school today.

  104. USA students badly need behavior standards. The fourth "R" is respect. Students need to respect themselves, others, and their teachers. Adults in the community (including our President and the Secretary of Education) should assume the adult responsibility for instilling respect for learning and teaching.

  105. Will it include a commitment to science, or will religion be allowed to cloud education just as China grabs the baton of leadership?

  106. I'm from Texas. Perry is a demagogue. He is hurting the children of Texas. What happens when they graduate and move elsewhere? If Perry continues to hold Texas out of these reforms, I may become in favor of flat-out halting federal education payments to Texas.

  107. I have an idea, let's go take a look at successful schools systems in Europe and Asia; then adopt the best of these standards here. Also, change teachers compensation to something realistic, hold them accountable, make it easier for people to become teachers if they have the knowledge and experience, eliminate tenure and disband the teacher unions. Then, eliminate individual school districts and eliminate the duplication of school boards and superintendents which have their own agenda. That is, have a single system in each state. School boards are a throw back to the 19th century when there were one room school houses in rural areas.

    The public schools are a failure because they are too bureaucratic, too introspective, too controlling on what is and how it is taught, the administration thinks they know best, and of course local politics. So, if the United States wants to adopt national standards, then they should take the best from the world. Of course they won't. They had a chance to do the same thing with health care reform and you see what we ended up with.

    This comes down to this; Americans are so arrogant and too conceited, that they think they know what is best, even though other countries have come up with better alternatives that are just being ignored. Once Americans get off their high horse, then maybe things will get done properly in this country. The so called "best country in the world" is a matter of perspective, especially if you end up on the wrong side of the stick.

  108. I have tutored high school, college, and university students in math, and I taught high school math as a substitute for a couple of years earlier in this decade.

    The most important math standard I can think of is that elementary school children learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide without using a calculator.

    Amazing as it might seem, I have tutored high school students who cannot add 1 + 1 or multiply 2 x 2. Children should not be introduced to calculators before they are fully conversant with what numbers are and how to do simple arithmetic in their heads.

  109. When I went to school (in the dark ages) a teacher was expected to teach. Behavioral problems, disciplin, etc. was a family problem. Schooling was simple - do your work or get left back to repeat what you didnt learn.

    Today, teachers are caregivers and no one gets left back to repeat the work (that would be bad for their self image).

    Let teachers teach. That is what they do. Set up a separate disciplinary section to handle those problems that interfere with the teacher doing what he/she does best - teaching. Get the problem out of the classroom and make the parent responsible. Maybe pose a tax on the families of those disruptive students so that they begin to take responsibility for their prodigeny.

    And if a student cant learn - or wont learn - set up an alternative program where they can get involved with learning a skill. Recognize that not everyone can attain the requisite knowledge that is imparted in a proper education. That will serve the community by making productive citizens of those the somehow cannot follow the educationl parameters that we have arbitrarily set.

  110. None of these standards seemed at all out of line.

    I think it was #46 who talked about remedial English classes in college that were teaching 18 and 19 year olds how to take notes and make powerpoint presentations. If you receive a good education in reading and English (or Language Arts, I think is what the public school kids called it in grade school), one in which you learn how to read critically and analytically, you do not need to be taught how to take notes. Reading all that "romantic literature," which should be a combination of fiction and non-fiction, and then writing a paper in which you come up with an argument and defend it with evidence is where you get your analytical skills from. If you read a novel and can pull out the main ideas, then you can pull them out of whatever you're trying to present and put them on your powerpoint slides. If you've mastered reading comprehension, because you've read books and essays and articles and plays, then you can also figure out the important parts of a lecture or texbook paragraph and take notes accordingly. I personally made a website in my English class freshman year of high school about Romeo and Juliet (2000). Did that not coincide with the technological values of today? These are what are called transferable skills. You learn how to analyze a passage, and voila you can analyze and understand a whole wealth of things . . . even in the real world.

    I've had some great teachers in my lifetime. In high school and college, they were, without exception, the ones who were most interested and knowledgeable about the subjects they taught. I'm sick of hearing about how standards ruin "creativity." I had the same wonderful chemistry teacher for both regular honors h.s. chemistry and AP chem. She was wonderful, because she majored in chemistry in college, had worked in the private sector as a chemist, and LOVED chemistry. She still made us learn the laws of thermodynamics, stoich, significant digits, and naming conventions.

    Who cares if a teacher is caring or nice? If my math teacher is clearly a math geek, who enjoys math, is great at math, and has the special talent of being able to teach; that's a great math teacher. All three aspects are essential.

  111. One more reason why Rick Perry's not getting my vote in November.

  112. If Florida is a typical state in the Union, politicians have been reforming education for the last thirty years. Has education improved?

    The only thing that is constant is the war against teachers and the smear job perpetrated on teachers' unions. The school system in Florida consists of hundreds of thousands of student who were born in another country and whose first language is not English. They arrive daily in many schools without speaking one word of English. Often they have been to school in their native country only sporadically. Once a family is settled here it is not uncommon to then send for the cousins so that they can be educated here also. Coupled with the thousands of students from economically disadvantaged homes, the teachers are being blamed for a problem that is essentially a societal problem, a societal problem that is swept under the rug while the collapse of the educational system is blamed on teachers.

    Well, o.k. Destroy public education and break the teachers' unions. Let's see if education improves. After all, they've been trying for thirty years and the system is no better. That ought to tell us something.

  113. dear on line editor, Education standard shall have to be one needing amendments continoisly because knowledge is revealed every day by teams, individuals who spend their time in investfatings matters deep and deep.Espercially science subjects need amendment regularly so thatstudents upfate the knowledge on the subject on current avaialble knowledge.A standard edu science commttee be put in place to study and evaluate every discovery, inventions on any suvject with detals and prepare data sheets on knowee on the matter.Regrading science itmustbe ubuiversal because every bit of knowledge be linked up to form an updatedleaflet in the matterdated February 11rh 2010 time 0440Hrs ist AM

  114. The problem with local standards is they may or may not fit the needs of our country and society. Example? The US is now competing in a high tech world against countries that set national standards, in things like science and math, while we have local school districts whose educational level frankly is embarassing, where 'the 3r's' are considered enough and where religious fools want things like creationism taught as science, or where what is taught as history is propoganda that says the past was some sort of Golden age for a 'Christian" america. By having federal standards, it could neutralize the religious droolers from wrecking education systems, as they have been trying to do seemingly forever.

    Actually, I think that federal standards should be in place, that all school districts have to meet, and from that point on all schools have the right to add things to their programs. More importantly, the federal government should set standards but allow the local schools to figure out how to meet them....

    But there is a point to the anti government bias, and that is that the government promotes standardized testing, that their model is what is commonly used in Asia, which might turn out kids who do great on standardized tests, but who if you look at the accomplishments of their respective countries seem to have a big problem with creativity and innovation (Indian students, for example, come out as great grunt workers, but Indian students living in India are not creating new knowledge, they aren't innovating because their schools don't teach or encourage those skills, same with Japan and now China).

    For Adoptive father: The 'parochial school' as the answer to all the problems is not a solution to the education issues we see. First of all, that 10k a year to educate a child sounds great, but if you look at the level of a typical parochial school in terms of education, it is not at the top of the ladder. It is a good, basic education, but most parochial schools when compared to top performing public schools are often severely lacking in what they teach (it is only in comparison to failing inner city schools that parochial schools look good). I have had people point out top rated Catholic private schools, but the ones they point out usually are Catholic prep schools, whose tuition is easily 25k/year, same as other private prep schools.

    The other problem with vouchers is we still we need standards, because how do we guarantee that parents aren't sending their kid to some jerkwater evangelical school? How do we guarantee they are being taught what needs to be taught?

    For all those people who claim that local schools innovate and are more flexible and creative, please...if that were the case, we wouldn't have the crisis we have, where people are groaning under the weight of property taxes, and where many school districts are not turning out well prepared students (take a look sometime at test results from places down south, like Mississippi and Arkansas, and compare it to educational levels in NJ, Connecticut and other high performing states, then tell me about 'local schools' always being better, or compare them to schools in inner city areas for that matter)

  115. Great discussion so far guys. I would like to point out that most teachers disagree with high-stakes testing. There must be a better way to teach these kids but unfortunately parents need to take the time and energy to show their children the importance of education. I have worked in an inner city school where 92% of the student population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. Often the only nutritional meal they get is at school because their parents are too busy working or do not have the money to afford decent meals. For many of the students, they see going to school as an opportunity to hang out with friends not learn. There have been students who don't show up for days because no one at home is making them go. When they do show up they are sent to in school suspension which totally defeats the purpose of trying to get them caught up. Meanwhile, we have states like Texas who set the bar so low that a "profcient" student there is a "novice" in Kentucky. National Standards need to be implemented and more should be done to motivate parents to place more emphasis on their children's education. American schools and teachers can only do so much. Nothing will improve until we can get parents more involved. Comments about the Teacher's Unions are not only erroneous but insulting. Teacher's do more work for less pay than most people in this country. People wonder why teacher's teach to the test...they have to or they get fired. You try taking sophomore's who read at a fifth grade level and teaching them how to think outside the box on a piece of literature, or how to interpret the author's use of symbolism, when they can't even spell symbolism. Ease off the teachers guys. We want our kids to succeed too, sometimes more than the parents.

  116. Keep in mind, many countries only count scores (grades) from students in their university bound courses. Students in vocational courses don't get counted. The statistics do not really compare the same type of schools or students.

  117. I do not understand how standards like these threaten American innovation. In fact, I suspect that well-educated hires from other countries are responsible for a lot of the true innovation occuring here now. As they are, our schools don't produce innovators; instead, they take those who could be innovators and make them into a horde of scammers and swindlers.

  118. So what does the Dept. of Education do?
    I could never understand why national road map such as this was not done a long time ago. Let them know what should be taught, but let the teacher/school/ districts decide how it should be taught.

  119. What would Diane Ravitch say?

    Focus on the teacher. Respect the profession. Train the best of the best to teach. Pay them well. Reward, honor, and value education. We've always had standards. The irony is that all good teachers have far higher standards than any set of state or national standards. Creating basic national standards just redirects obscene amounts of money to another flavor of the month fad that hopes to improve the bottom.

  120. Eliminate the whole urban hip hop mindset from teens and teach them middle class values like the importance of education, having a career and speaking proper. Invest in the creation of IT jobs so that may compete with India. Arrest and deport, if possible execute any person who is involved in gun violence or commits a violent crime. Legalize prostitution,drugs and teach women to dress more like Russians, so that we can all be happy with good looking wives(this will encourage the formation of families) and then finally, lower taxes and end government all handouts to immigrants that come to this country and all they do is leech the system.

  121. We already do have standards it's call the teachers unions.
    What's good for them is good for the children by definition.

  122. I love this idea, since it would at least put a floor on the educational curricula around the country. We've lived in 4 states and see too much variation and *low* expectations. Would like to see the option to exceed the standards, by incorporating the standards with add-ons.

  123. If you are not an Educator how dare you criticize something you know nothing about? First of all do I think this plan will work? The answer to that is a resounding no. Why is that, because we have tried reforms like the no child left behind and it did not work nor will this. Why because the problem is not the curriculum or the Teachers the problems lies with the Students and their Parents. I have worked as a Teacher for 11 years and in my 11 years I have seen and heard things that you would not believe. First of all students only have to show up to school every 21 days so that their parents can get a check and when they do show up they don’t go to class but cause disruptions in the halls as well as the classroom. Then you have students who feel they can cuss out a Teacher and hit the Teacher and no that nothing will happen to them. You see in my District there is a no suspension rule so students can do whatever they want and just get told not to do this again. As a Police offers once said it is sad you can’t suspend them but I can arrest them. I say let Congress and the Senate go to the inner city schools not the suburbs and high end districts and publicity. They need to go in like the show Undercover Boss and Teach for a week not observe but Teach and then see what reforms they would recommend. Not some reform that will go by the waist side.

  124. I recived a good public school education in Detroit. of couse I wanted to
    learn.

  125. #247 wrote:
    "We already do have standards it's call the teachers unions.
    What's good for them is good for the children by definition."

    I would like to see a nation wide strike by teachers , then the people whining about teachers unions, teachers pay, teachers ....whatever could man-up and experience what teachers go through everyday or are you ready to close all schools permanently?