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. When I saw this article, I cringed at the thought of all the cliche-mongering it would provoke. And you see it above, in all its glory. Inane spouting about how enforcing some fundamental standards is "throwing disconnected facts at the kids, hoping some will stick", and denying these budding Hemingways their "creative voice."

    Give me a break. First of all, about a third of the student in these schools have IQs below 100. Do you know what that means? It means that they will struggle just to learn some fundamental intellectual skills.
    I'm not worried about their future as creative artists -- I'm worried about whether they can hold a job -- any job, so I don't have to support them with my tax dollars.

    Now, some of these low IQ types could be artists, tradesmen, but most of them won't be successful artists and tradesmen, because the fact is that IQ counts in virtually every endeavor.

    In my day, there was strict discipline in the schools and every kid could write complete sentences, spell, and do a little arithmetic. Modern teachers unions are terrified at their members being held accountable for achieving those minimal goals. They want their excessive salaries, wonderful pensions, and no responsibility. Pressed for accountability, they spout cliches about how learning to read and write is too "restricting" for the little geniuses in their classes.

    The time of accounting is near.

  2. I teach 12th grade in a high need public school. My students are good, hard working and want to be successful in college. Looking at the sample essays of the core standards just makes me sad. I rarely see any student write above a seventh grade level, according to these standards. I have taught high school English for 18 years and I have never seen students writing at the high school level. I agree that we need standards, but we have got to realize what kind of work many low performing students are doing, and understand that they are not all lazy or uninterested. They have been cheated by this whole society. Teachers can't be expected to fix the problem on their own.

  3. How about really something innovative? Discipline in the public schools. This would include zero tolerance for disruption. How about special schools for the chronically disruptive pupil? In N.Y. we called them the 600 schools. We have schools out there that are totally out of control. We can thank child advocacy groups and other liberals who refuse to allow administrators and teachers to discipline unruly youngsters. The result: No learning takes place because groups, such as the ACLU, believe that every child has the right to disrupt another child's education.
    Stop blaming the unions for the ills of the school system. Without them, the awful conditions would be even worse. Before the advent of the union, teachers had to get permission to go to the bathroom. Longer day and longer year? Forget it. We have children out there who are bouncing off the walls by the beginning of the school day. We need work-study programs for chronically disruptive pupils. If an older student works, maybe then they'll realize the value of an education.
    We must have supevisors who taught prior to entering the world of supervision. In N.Y.C., many schools are led by principals who never taught one day. Infact, Joel Klein taught for 6 months before he fled the classroom. Would love to look at his file.
    [email protected] Comments are welcome. Those who don't believe me should get themselves a license and start teaching in one of our many schools, preferably a N.Y.C. surr school. It might be a close encounter of the worst kind for them.
    Who writes these proposals? People who either never or hardly taught. Do 33 years as I did.

  4. This is dangerous ground. Though I would certainly agree with a high standard in Education, I am exceptionally worried about the ethos of those creating the standard. A national curriculum propagates a national (or governmental) definition of what constitutes knowledge. Will these national standards allow room for specific community learning? For instance, a writing assignment that is diversified as the students in the classroom and tailored to an issue specific to the community often provides the students a more tangible connection to the curriculum. Knowledge changes, sometimes very quickly. Will these standards take that into account? What processes are in place to make those changes and in what time frame? How will these standards be assessed? Who will be responsible for overseeing this assessment? Will we be moving to national exams, as well? In Alan Parker’s landmark film, Pink Floyd The Wall (1982), a set of British private school students, clad in uniforms and wearing masks distorting their faces in a screaming position, march in unison along an industrial conveyor that will eventually lead them to fall off into a meat grinder below. This poignant image is set to Pink Floyd’s lyrics, “All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.” Through this scene and song, Parker and Pink Floyd make a distressing commentary on the state of education. What measures are in place that allow us to tailor learning the specific needs of the student? I am not saying national standards are necessarily bad, as long as there is a reasonable amount of flexibility for schools and teachers to tailor learning and objectives to specific communities and specific students. The fast track adoption of these standards scares me the most. Where is the time for analysis? We wouldn’t allow a scholarly article (which, in a way, constitutes knowledge in academia) to be published in such a short period of time, yet we will fast track the whole of “knowledge” for our primary and secondary education systems? Let’s model the type of critical thinking and analytical thinking we want from our students.
    A Chicago Community College Prof.

  5. This contributing comment reflects what I wrote in the Sedona Valley Times,(Sedona, AZ) and The paper Que Pasa,Flagstaff, AZ about the lack of minority representation on the various boards determing educational policy.

    One area that needs to be addressed in the reform movement is the need to increase the role of minority leadership in helping to shape national and state educational policies and standards.
    While an increasing minority student population prevails in urban areas, the teaching and administration ranks of minorities is decreasing, while the ranks remain occupied by the dominant (white) majority group.
    The dominant white majority group is the greatest stakeholder in determining educational policy, standards and curriculum which may not reflect the culture values and academic needs of the urban students they serve. It appears that minority educators are not invited to the national table as stakeholders because of barriers that are still in place by the system.
    Franklin Campbell Jones and Robin Avelar-Lasalle, wrote in their educational abstract African American and Hispanic Superintendents: Factors for Success, 2000, about barriers minority educators face in leadership.
    “Barriers for minority leadership are often built in to the system in subtle ways that are designed to eliminate them as they work towards higher administrative positions. This ideology has developed from institutionalized mechanisms that have been built into the education organization machinery to keep minorities out of the mainstream of administration. “
    How are these mechanisms used today? One way is through the use of written language. The use of written language comes in the form of job descriptions, evaluation procedures, and setting unrealistic goals and standards which may differ from their white counterpart.
    Verbal language is the second method used as a barrier, which comes through the form of insinuations, disregarding input, and refusing to dialogue on educational issues that impact students’ academic success. Verbal mechanisms tend to devalue one’s knowledge or experience. Whether it is intentionally or not, the written and verbal mechanisms maintain the racial barrier of one becoming a stakeholder in the process.

    In researching last week for minority educational leaders that are stakeholders at the national and state level, I found the following information.
    Among the Council of Chief State Offices, (Educators by the state board of governors); the National Council on Education, Common Core Standards work group for K-12, committees representing stakeholders, (Department of Education), there was only one minority, which was an Asian woman on the Chief Staff Offices. There were no minorities represented on the remaining committees, and none in the upper level management of the Department of Education.
    Even in some of the major public charter school organizations, (Edison) I did not find minorities in the key areas of policy , strategic planning and curriculum development. If there are minorities in these areas they were not listed.
    It remains a struggle for minority educational leaders to prove they are capable in reforming our educational system. We must start allowing minority educational leaders to become stakeholders in educational reform if we are to prepare students to compete in a global society.

  6. Connie Owens in Miami, Florida (#18) has clearly not taught school.

  7. "differences between drama and prose story" Ok I just looked prose story up and it seems "prose story" is not that common a phrase, or at least not very google-able. This was the best I could find: http://wiki.answers.com...

    So anyone want to tell a 40 year old what the difference is? It seems drama is a part of prose or at least can be in prose. I don't get it.

  8. Let us not forget the arts - visual, performing, graphic, music, etc. I agree with Sir Ken Robinson as he wrote in "The Element" that our creativity will be needed more than ever; also Daniel Pink of "Whole New Mind." This is what will be needed to produce the new "Outliers." New curriculum that stresses innovative solutions to increasingly difficult challenges.

  9. Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach (an ancient proverb). It was bad enough when the teacher crop in colleges came from the bottom of the high school grad educational pool; now they've graduated, gotten jobs and joined the teachers' union, giving them more money but an inversely porportional incentive to improve their teaching skills. As long as Johnny or Jame come home with a (curve inflated) A or B mom and dad are happy, thinking they've got a genius in the family. Another major problem, we have too many colleges and universities, so they eagerly accept people who may not qualify in order to grab the money and stay afloat. Hey, this may sound elitist, but it doesn't make it wrong -- just sad, because, as many have noted, it is hurting our country.

  10. Bring all school-kids into fast-food fried-chicken joints - show them how they will end up if they don't apply themselves to education - shock therapy for the little darlings...

  11. Every teacher I know (and I know of quite a number, who teach primarily in cities like New York and DC), name the same thing as their biggest problem: too many regulations.

    Nothing interferes more with educating their kids than the endless 'requirements' promoted by those who are *not* in the classroom on a daily basis. No doubt that all the people who helped to formulate these standards are well-intentioned, but unless they plan on being in the classroom alongside the teachers to see what it is that the children in each classroom need (which is different in inner-city DC schools and suburban Scarsdale, NY schools), the standards are one more hoop for good teachers to jump through.

    And unless teachers can be fired for not keeping to the standards (something that is nearly unheard of in our public schools), the standards are one more thing for bad teachers to hide behind.

    The problem with our schools is not lack of standards. It is that we actively prevent good teachers from trying to find the best way to reach their students and we allow bad teachers to game the system and stay exactly where they are.

  12. It's easy to set "standards." Easy to say everybody should score above 750 on each of the SAT subtests, or everybody should read the Iliad in Homeric Greek. But these standards are just words. The danger is that we mistakes words for actions. If we have standards, the rest, we think the rest will follow. But only in Hogwarts can one wave a wand, say a few words, and things change in an instant. In our world, there is little magic. What we should be asking ourselves is whether we actually do want a schooling system that will help children become critical and thoughtful citizens in a free society, able to speak, listen, weigh, make judgments. If that's what we indeed want, then the chatter about "standards" is a very minor part of the action. We need to think about parental/community involvement in new ways. We need to lengthen the school year. And we need teachers who are teachers, not teach-to-the-test technicians.

  13. What if the ONLY thing that were to change in public education was that students would do the work assigned on time, neatly, and turned it in? What if that were the expectation in each household, every family, and all schools?

    Dream on: What if kids also came to school ready to learn? What if they were well fed and rested, and their behavior was expected to be exemplary? What if parents and schools were allies and not, as is so often the case, adversaries?

    National standards can't fix these problems of respect for schools, teachers, learning, and education in general. But they might help schools and teachers work harder and smarter to reach more students. They will not fix the problems, but they might help our overtaxed education system manage to shoulder more of the work of raising our nation's children, our country's future.

  14. Of course we need national standards. Our university system works at a national level, as does our employment system. People apply to colleges and to jobs all across the country. The 50 states share an integrated economy and higher education system and therefore MUST begin sharing minimum primary and secondary educational standards. The state's rights nonsense is simply not relevant to today's situation.

  15. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is NOT a teachers' union. It is a professional organization of Teachers of Mathematics. This organization has been proposing national standards for mathematics in elementary and high schools and published these standards in the 1980s without any financial help from the federal government. Do we have to reinvent the wheel every twenty or thirty years?

  16. To donbl #15, NYC's standards are pretty low at many of its high schools, particularly the large ones in low-income areas (Lehman, Flushing, John Bowne). I work with kids from all of those schools, and their writing/reading and math levels are APPALLING. I welcome teachers from those schools to explain why 11th-graders in those schools were permitted to progress from 9th grade without knowing how to read and write at that level.

  17. @ Cathy Kayser #203:

    As both a Costa Rican citizen and U.S. citizen who has lived in both over a period of some 35 years, I can attest to the fact that your comments show a painful ignorance of what the reality of public education is in the Central American republic that is Costa Rica, especially compared to the train wreck that is the system in the U.S. Firstly, the U.S. has more to learn from Costa Rica, than Costa Rica from the U.S. (so your "third world" gratuitous comment, besides showing your prejudice, is woefully off point). The overwhelming majority of Costa Ricans, including the poor, middle class, AND relatively well-off, choose send their kids to the excellent public schools, precisely because of high standards in all the grades from pre-school to high school and beyond. The public schools educate the overwhelming majority of Costa Rican children. The centralized system of government, in standards, as well as financing, in inherently not only superior in terms of educational results obtained, but also more EQUITABLE than our system, where rich towns with a wealthy tax base finance better schools over poor districts where the town's treasury and tax base is lower. In Costa Rica, the financing of educational quality does not depend on what town a child's parents is from, but instead is provided to all public schools and towns in Costa Rica equitably, as is done in France, Spain, and most other civilized countries.

    Further, In the Costa Rican public school system (as well as in all private schools), uniforms are required. Another reflection of the seriousness with which the Costa Rican republic takes education. The results speak for themselves. The fundamentals of math, science, writing, language, etc. are learned to a much higher degree of consistency and depth than is the case in the U.S.

    This also partly explains the fact that the latest generation of students graduating from public schools in Costa Rica is vastly better prepared to follow a professional college career track or enter into a vocation than their correspondents in the States, again, owing to clear, uniform STANDARDS that educators have developed to work in the Costa Rican system over decades.

    Finally, Costa Rica, as a nation, does not squander precious resources and billions of dollars on stealth bombers, unmanned drones, and misguided military adventurism while at the same time impoverishing the general populace at home, in senseless wars that it doesn't want to pay for, like is done in the U.S.

    In fact, speaking of the squandering of money, not only in education, but also in health care, does the U.S. stands more to learn from Costa Rica than Costa Rica from the U.S.

    Your monolingual, passing acquaintance with Costa Rican culture does not give you the right to irresponsibly spread misinformation about "Costa Rica's centralized curriculum" based on your myopic, surface impression of the country.

  18. What most of these comments miss is that since every state already has standards, switching to the common standards would generally mean just replacing mediocre or bad standards with better ones.
    That has to be an improvement.
    As far as text books, right now the publishers write mainly for either California or Texas standards, so no matter what other state's standards say, most can't find text books that actually match their standards! With Common standards, text book will have to be written to match those standards, and so may states will be able to align their new text books with their new common standards. Another win.
    About parents - we can focus on blaming them and basically give up. Alternatively, we could "copy success". There are schools and districts that are beating the odds, and having success with kids who don't normally do well. Those schools are not changing the parents.
    They are just finding ways for the students to be successful. We need to focus on what is working, and stop wasting time saying nothing can be done.
    All the leading successful countries in the world already have national standards, and it is about time we headed in that direction in the U.S.

  19. “Students are asked to do progressively more challenging things, and although that may sound obvious, it’s a real breakthrough,”

    Yikes. No wonder we're in trouble. Here's another one guys...kids memorize and understand the definition of the words in their study subjects. And we don't let them slide from year to year not really understanding anything.

    Wow! Grok on that, education dudes!

  20. France has extreme centralization, witness the education minister who looked at his watch and said "Every child in grade 10 in France is at present studying xyz ..."
    How does French schooling compare with schooling in the USA?

  21. Several commented about my fix for schools. Let me expand.

    First, I repeat. Figure out what it costs to teach a kid. If you don't think $10,000 does the trick than pick a number and back it up. This isn't higher math. A spreadsheet analysis gets you the number by the end of the day.

    Second, how do you make sure people don't send their kids to wacky schools? Set up a results commission. The bottom 10% of schools lose their ability to cash a voucher. Which are the bottom 10% - that's pretty easy with some reasonable benchmarking.

    The alternative is to keep on the current path of educational annihilation. With vouchers tens of thousands of worthless 'managers' get fired and more money goes to teachers. Parents make the choices and decide who's doing a good job for them.

    Look at it another way. Would you agree to let the government take over the restaurant industry and 'give' you meals instead? That would be a disaster. The food would suck and so would the service. And the bathrooms would be filthy too.

    Sounds like public schools today doesn't it??

    The answer is to break up the big pile of money and disperse it into millions of small piles. That takes power away from politicians and unions. That's the only way to fix the system.

  22. IMO these standards truly are not high enough and that will make us more competitive as a nation...

    That said, a national MINIMUM set of standards, with local option to set HIGHER ones would be welcome... and perhaps this can serve as a start on that.

    In the modern world, both for the hood of the students and the country as whole, minimum standards for science are critical. Both because o technology but also because nothing hones critical thinking like being forced to come up with a hypothesis which can then be proven or disproven by experiment and objective reproducible data.

    Science teaches there is a reality beyond opinion and desire, and that how nature/ the physical world works, is understandable even if not now completely understood now.

  23. As important (and overdue) as national standards are, they won't do much to improve student performance.

    In a country where intelligence and scholarly achievement are held in contempt by the popular culture, where consistent insistence on superior academic performance is not encouraged by parents, where video is the default parent as well as the shaper of every generation's cultural values and expectations and where far too many American born children are ESL candidates, one shouldn't expect great improvements student achievement.

    One more thing: while it may be true that some educators are not up to snuff quit blaming teachers! On the whole, they do a pretty remarkable job considering the social and cultural problems they are obliged to deal with. Someone needs to tell parents that they have a solemn, even sacred responsibility, to prepare their children for school.

  24. Rick Perry, Governor Looking Backwards. Thanks.

  25. Yep. More reform from the top down. That's just what we need. A bunch of educational bureaucrats who may never have taught in a classroom telling everyone else what to do and how to do it.

    You know what? Lots and lots of teachers do know what they're doing. The education departments in many universities have no idea.

    After reading a story about Diane Ravitch, the big education hoo-haa, I looked for the number of years she had spent teaching in elementary, middle, or high school, but I couldn't find that information. Maybe my research skills need to buffed up; maybe the information just isn't available; or maybe, she has never practiced what she preaches.

    I was a teacher for most of my working life. I would never enter the profession if I was a young person today. Too many people telling others what to do. Not worth the hassle for the money. Too many dolts seeking power and being egged on by the authoritarians in government.

  26. This article should be read in conjunction with your March 2 magazine feature, "Building a Better Teacher." This proposed list of goals and standards will be nothing but words on paper until all teachers have both the content knowledge and the teaching skills to implement the standards.

    Can anybody tell me where the pupils will go and who will teach them when a failing school is closed and all its staff are fired, as proposed in the punitive "race to the top" policy? Will a great school with first-rate teachers spring miraculously from the forehead of Zeus?

    There's a mountain of work to be done. Setting goals is a good beginning -- but only a beginning.

  27. Apparently Fifth grade students will not have to learn to spell coordinate.

  28. What a relief to see so many comments speaking the truth about why many of our children do poorly in school. Obama has spoken it also. It's about parenting. No standards, no teachers, no guidance counselors, no administrators can take the place of an involved parent.

  29. High schools have been the most neglected of curriculum. As a certified teacher in 1985-1988 and who dealt with curriculum and school accreditation let me say that h.s. preparation is not the best we can have. One of the most important influences on my education was the voluntary activity of scientists in h.s. science projects and evaluation (science fairs), a particular math teacher (influenced by professors at the University of Illinois), and the local library's holdings of Scientific Americans. I want to say something about English skills but I didn't have them (writing skills), although I think the h.s. teachers tried their best. It helped a little when a local college allowed me to audit college courses as a junior in h.s. I don't know why that was not sufficient. I guess because of the lack of emphasis on writing. There is a conundrum there because not only does one has to have the skills of writing but something to write about.

    Partly the neglect is such poor education of previous generations. Can you imagine we haven't brought h.s. education up to 1905 and Einstein's papers? The scientists don't even know them or their importance. That was the most important effort I made when I was teaching in Van Buren, ME. At the superconductivity conference scientists didn't even know that magnetism and electricity were one phenomena (4 dimensions - huh!)when I attended a conference by Nature in Boston. Administrators didn't know the value of that part of the curriculum. Students couldn't do the math for their physics experiments to realize that their measurements in physics actually measured the size of molecules. Idiocy after idiocy. Now I would like to teach math, the real dream world math that goes everywhere but I can hardly keep the religious fundamentalists at bay.

  30. Because Americans have become a much more transient culture than in the past, a national standard curriculum a very good idea . Present-day students may pass through a web of school districts in their academic career - bouncing from one set of standards to another - and, in the process, lose a consistency of education and fall into the cracks between different states' standards. As a 30-year Special Education veteran, I can testify that this is a particularly serious concern in Special Education as, when a SE student travels cross-country, he/she takes with him/her the Individualized Education Plan that was developed at his/her last school - and, often, one that will not necessarily meet the standards of the next district where he/she will receive more education - and in this, a Pandora's Box of problems can arise.

    Why not trust in the idea that the federal government of our country can actually do something right? Why is it that so many Americans fear their federal government? Yes, politicians make mistakes - but lousy politicians exist at state levels every bit as much as the Federal level! Until someone can come up with a better system, stop complaining and start working on a more positive attitude. It's time we start trusting who we are and work together as one country! Isn't that why the United States of America was formed to begin with? Bring back the pride in saying you're an American!

  31. Schools should be allowed to select from a number of nationally-recognized curricula that include vocational and remedial plans as well. A one-size fits all plan runs counter to the individualism and ingenuity of America. I agree that some states have selected standards that are woefully unambitious. And yet, if there were five well-known plans (not just one), proponents would create a brand identity for each and inject competition into this process. That is, one curriculum may boast that its students persist at the highest levels in subsequent higher education experiences. Another could indicate that its students bring an average of 21 transferrable hours into college. A third might be designed to guarantee vocational aptitude, leading to a higher average wage after high school. Finally, one may show how it transforms the experience of underachievers, leading to higher graduation rates for those who tend to drop out. How can a singular curriculum and plan achieve all of these outcomes?

    I understand and appreciate the concern of educators about variation, but a Mass. parent has good reason to be skeptical of this initiative.

  32. Education is important, proper education is more important. Remember the adage "Reading and Writing, and rithmatic"? Proper English is important in order to express oneself, and to understand another. History, U.S. as well as Ancient and European is very important, "In order to know where you are going, you have to know where you have been" . . . There has been talk about cutting back on U.S. History, this is a bad idea. Factual details of U.S. History is vital to every American Citizen. Arithmetic and Math, very important, everything basic is based on Mathematics. Simple counting of change leaves many a cashier in stores bewildered. Many a time if it is $2.10 for an item, and I give a $5.00 bill and 25¢, I throw the place in a tantrum, the automatic register is not set for that type of transaction, and the cashier does not know how to count the change. Try it sometime..... it's not funny

  33. As for the drama versus prose requirement, this is a start but reflects a superficial nod to the teaching that needs to be done to help students assess and think critically about texts. New media complicates conventional genres for producing and reading texts, genres that young people now are introduced to nearly at birth. If there are going to be new standards for our age they should help students be better literate in reading and producing all media, and for the information age. We live in a post textbook world when all of us can easily access primary sources and can assemble and make meaning of the world on our own. Digested information will become less and less compelling. The how of learning and not coverage has become more important in a post-modern world. The standards of New Child Left Behind meanwhile have been overly focused on knowledge as consumption and not the production --creative products are harder to assess but their invention makes the world go round.

  34. I support this effort in principle. For those who actually read the article, they would see that it's not the federal government who is doing this, and the federal government is not requiring states to accept the standards. What I fail to understand (and what Texas Governor Perry apparently doesn't either) is why a state would refuse to at least participate in the process? Does Texas have all the answers to its educational problems? If it did, it wouldn't have problems. Collaboration almost always produces a better product, when done correctly. What Massachusetts should understand is that if it's doing something right in its educational system, why not share that with the other states? It surprises me that there are still a lot of folks in education who don't seem to recognize that it's all about the chiildren, regardless of where they live or come from.

    The states, either collectively or singly, should be responsible for their own education systems. Keep the federal government out of it, as it has no constitutional powers there anyway.

  35. I once asked an Indian taxi driver if he liked taxi driving and if that was his life's work. "Oh, no," he said,"don't confuse us with the Pakistanis." I waited for a racist declaration. "You see, in India, our mothers begin educating us from early childhood: reading, writing, arithmetic, as you say. The Pakistani women get no support and are neither very valued or very listened to. understand, there are exceptions, but generally, mothers do not begin a Pakistani's formal education and their schools are mostly Coranic and God forbid that they should teach their daughters. The result is like day and night," he said. "The Pakistani driver here has found a lifetime occupation. For Indians like me, it's a way to earn a living until they rise above taxi driving. I have a Masters degree and I'm studying for a doctorate at NYU."

    The comparison between the two national and religious groups was clear and had nothing to do with racism. It had to do with the realities that we "free and equal" avoid looking at. We all deserve equal respect, but it's idiotic to fail to recognize certain social/religious group differences. The Chinese, Japanese, and Jews stress formal education from birth and their subsequent placement in many fields bespeaks of that. But formal education is very secondary in most Hispanic and black families. WHY? That's another whole study. We must find a way to get over our "equality" nonsense and replace it with "equal respect", then start working on all parents respect for their children's education whether they are black, white, or of any known religion. If you doubt that, go see the film Precious again! That's what it is about.

  36. After spending more time reading through these postings than I had anticipated being necessary, I will direct my comments to those I found to be either blatantly erroneous or just bordering on hysteria.

    Library Lady: Any sort of "igoran[ce] that may be derived from Texas "going it alone" stance would only be the further "dumbing-down" of Texas school children by the Texas Education Agency:

    http://www.texastribune.org...

  37. Eh. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I've read the proposed standards. Most teachers are doing this already, whether or not they're required to by the state in which they teach. This looks good, and it's a great way to get mentioned in the New York Times, but it's not going to make much difference in classrooms.

    You know what would make a difference in classrooms? If people started valuing education. It's true, as I said, that teachers are already teaching to these standards. It's also true that a lot of kids aren't learning the content. What we as a country always seem to do is to try new teachers or new standards, but we rarely get a different outcome. If we actually found a way to motivate all students (probably by motivating all parents) to view an education as valuable, we'd suddenly find that all the talk about better teachers and better standards wasn't necessary.

  38. Just as long as the creators of these standards have considered the consequences it's not a problem but have they? What about the kids who are not born with the innate ability to handle them? What about the kids who come from dysfunctional homes and problems in many other areas? Yes, unions, so-called poor teachers, administrators and school committee members all share a part in this problem but it is minor compared to the homes kids come from. Is it ironic that most problems come from dysfunctional homes. Many times we think we have found the answer to problems whether in education or otherwise but we treat the symptons rather than the problems. We get upset when our kids don't "quite" measure up to students from Japan and Finland yet in order to do so we would need to have the culture and mores of those countries. Do we want that in America or do we want to try to educate all K-12? It's up to us. The standards should be set by those in the business of education, not those from Ivy League schools who may have PhD's but no experience in the public schools. There is a big differnce between "Choice Schools" and public schools. Public schools need to educate all who step off the bus. Choice schools are just that: For the most part they educate whom they choose. In conclusion public schools do a very fine job of education for the most part. It is the government who comes up with the conclusion they don't. Let's see. Who has done the most work in outer space? Let's see. Do more students from foreign countries come to America to be educated or is the reverse true? You know the answer if you have worked in the field of education. To give the public three weeks to consider this is insane. Congress has been working on healthcare for over a year and where are they? Read Diane Ravitch's book that was published 3/2/10, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM-HOW TESTING AND CHOICE ARE UNDERMINING EDUCATION, understand the problems before setting forth a solution. Again we see that the goverment is not the solution but rather the problem.

  39. National minimum standards have been needed for years. If a state (such as my home state of Massachusetts) has standards that exceed the national minimum guidelines, then it's ludicrous to assume they would lower them to meet the national guidelines.

    One fundamental change I believe would help--and this was suggested by an Education Secretary during the 'NCLB administration'--is to eliminate the Bachelors degree in Education. I've taught 'education majors' in the Upper Midwest, and worked with elementary education teachers, too. I have to sadly concur with the hypothesis that the majority of our education majors really do rank (per SAT/ACT scores) in the lower third of any entering college class. Incurious, undisciplined, and apathetic. Not all of them, of course, but a disturbing percentage. (I've actually had a lot of students tell me they "only had to be smarter than a twelve-year-old.") The hodgepodge of courses required of an B.A. in Education, hand-waving educational philosophies 'du jour', and the overall lack of a directed, cohesive goal should be fixed. Master's degrees in Education? Fine, but only after a student has studied a formal discipline for three years (english, math, physics, what have you). A minor in education at the BA level should do.

    This is particularly important in the elementary grades. Students--for whatever reasons, too complex to discuss here (but mentioned in the article)--that are not grade-level accomplished in the 'three R's' by the time they enter middle school RARELY, IF EVER catch up. Shoveling money at schools later, to bring them up to speed, would be better burned for heat. If in third or fourth grade, Johnny can't read or Sally can't add, cordially invite them to repeat the grade. Children are more resilient than we give them credit for. Don't worry too much about their 'self-esteem'. The people with real self-esteem issues will be the high school 'graduates' who can't fill in a job or college application.

    I seem to recall the nation of Singapore revamping it's educational system in the past few decades, selecting the Japanese model for primary, European model for secondary, and American model for post- secondary education as a result of each systems' strengths. Japanese primary education is often derided for its 'rote' learning, but how much 'American creativity' is needed for arithmetic, spelling, basic grammar, and a grasp of history? Aren't these absolutes?

  40. Interesting how negative people can be. Instead of criticizing, Mr. Stergios might simply have said that he was glad that the other states were being encouraged to come closer to Massachusetts' high standards...

  41. My middle class surburban school district can't maintain academic standards from room to room, let alone from school to school within the district. Honoring the "craft" of teaching, individual teachers are decision-makers as to what they choose to teach or leave out. Good luck to national standards. Unless they are specifically spelled out complete with pacing charts it's a pipe dream that they will be adhered particularly since there is no structure to enforce that this will happen and experience shows us that state standards are often ignored, only to be covered in last minute test prep materials. The actual coverage of material to the students will all depend on the classroom's teacher's interpretation and decision of what to teach. Let's also not assume that the skill set exists in all classrooms to teach all state or federal requirements. Is teacher training part of this plan? Who's going to pay for that?

  42. The drumbeat for better education in the United States goes on. The proposed standard seems to hardly have a downside: anyone who cares, including parents, will have a tool to compare schools across states. But what will our highly-educated populace spend their lives doing in our so-called service economy? How much preparation is necessary to take a low-wage job at the mall? When I arrived at a medium-sized city in Wisconsin to find housing for a teaching job, the first person I spoke to was a graduate of my new employer, a respected liberal arts college. He worked at Enterprise, renting cars. I wondered if he felt that his educational background matched his career. Despite all the rhetoric about the need for people who are innovative and bright, capitalism in its current incarnation in the United States still has a big need for employees who who don't know too much and are willing to do work that does not require much skill in math, science, or English. The system is set up to use these people by paying them a low wage with few benefits and little job security, which helps to keep costs down for everybody. Give them too much education and they might get alienated and actually want to change something. Americans relied on poor immigrants to fill some of this need in the past, and maybe they'll continue to take up the slack in the future. But going Finnish seems unlikely. Individual taxes, including national and municipal, top out at over 50%, and the corporate tax rate is fairly high, too. Not to mention the high booze tax.

  43. I am an American, married to a Frenchman, living in a country where Dutch is the main language, but every child over the age of 12 can hold a conversation in English. I am also an English/ESL teacher, so have some knowledge of the state of American schools.

    My children are in French schools, not because I think the French system is necessarily the best, but because we move every few years, and the French schools everywhere in the world adhere to a challenging national curriculum. A child in second, sixth, or tenth grades can transfer to another French school, in another city or another country, without the fear of being ahead or behind his classmate; the adjustment is practically seamless. Yes, there are, of course, differences in each school: better teachers here, better materials there, more or less parent involvement, diverse student populations. But the Baccalaureat diploma each student must earn at the end of high school is worth something, and is the same test for every graduating student.

    Without some kind of national standard, every American school, from state to state, or country to country, teaches their own curriculum. As a child, I moved from one school district on Long Island, NY to another district maybe 20 miles away. Although I was an excellent student, my new school was going to put me in a lower grade level, because my former school district was not "up to our level". This happened in the same state; you can just imagine students moving from one state to another.

    I would have loved to put my children in American schools, as I remember my school years fondly, and would have liked them to have a similar experience. But the lack of cohesion and national standards left my geographically mobile family little choice.

    National core academic standards would be a start; each state could choose to attain higher standards, but at least there would be a core minimum every school would have to achieve.

  44. Standards can be helpful, and I think the federal role is easily explained as education is a major basis for opportunity and the ability to be a well-informed citizen. But they are useless if schools cannot be supplied with the means to meet those standards and if they are not coupled with other reforms to improve the process.

  45. I'm going to regress here, but when segregation was abolished, the education system were down. With expectations that African American children were behind-when they weren't, the textbooks, etc. were set up to help these children catch up-the opposite happened-the smart kids, black and white, were bored to tears with lessons and the rest were basically left behind or overlooked. Reading became something that wasn't taught correctly and students were promoted to another class without the benefit of knowing how to read on the level they left. Since reading is a must, I don't understand why this was allowed by prinicipals and teachers..No wonder we have one of the poorest systems in the world but the federal government does not need to fix this-it's a state by state process. Another important part is the lack of respect that students show to teachers. With the parents saying that no one will correct their child and their incompentence in making sure their children walk the line in school, it's become harder and harder for teachers to get anything taught in a class where a few students are touting and disrupting classes making it more difficult for the students who really want to learn. Using cuss words and threats, these students have basically taken over classrooms-no excuses, please-it doesn't matter what kind of home life there is-school protocol should be met with them or they should be expelled or put into special classes so that students without these attitudes can take advantage of real studies and growth. Until we curb the no respect for anyone item, it's just hard to do much for schools and parents of those children need to be advised and made to toe the line or put your child into private school or teach them at home. No longer should we tolerate misbehavior on the scale we are seeing it now. And states must write their own agendas and check out their own textbooks so that each student get a really good education instead of a half-baked attempt and they walk away with a diploma without skills that will help them even go to college or to get a job. This is just another area that the feds need to back off and allow the states first rights to educate their children.

  46. Standardized testing is a corporate plot to privatize education. The fact that students are performing poorly has little to do with quality of education and everything to do with our culture and society as a whole. Young people in this country are being raised like cattle by uniform messages from the media and now education. I can't believe that people can actually be this ignorant to the problem, I am compelled to believe that there is some degree of deliberation; that is to say, that this is a deliberate.

  47. The State tests have been a waste of time, energy and money. In Florida I can say that the constantly changing "standards" have caused confusion and stress. If a school met the goal for an "A" last year, this year's students now have to meet a higher standard to make an "A". That is just wrong! It isn't as though there aren't already "standardized tests", and when compared to the results of the state tests for individual students the results are not consistent.

  48. In my professional and personal opinion, this effort is fundamentally unAmerican and can only hurt public education. Our nation's greatness was built on public schools that were locally controlled, where teachers, not administrators and certainly not politicians, determined which children were successful and talented learners in each area of a diverse curriculum. Parents were engaged, in part, because they knew that teachers had this power/function and expertise.

    In my opinion, we need to get back to thinking about High Quality American Education (HQAE) and stop the wrong-headed, business-based, industrial revolution era thinking that gave us NCLB. The Fed's only roles in education should be running the center for education statistics, monitoring civil rights violations, and funneling money without shoestrings attached to states.

    State education officials should work to see that teachers are empowered to engage in creative, inspired teaching; that they (the teachers) have control of their classrooms--and the promotion or retention of their students.

    Principals know (believe it or not) which teachers are not performing well and they should take steps in concert with lead teachers to remedy these few situations or be allowed to, indeed forced to, fire these few teachers. Teacher evaluation systems that are applied universally are as useless and wrong headed as universal curriculum standards and tests. Useless too, are most teacher incentive and accountability systems, primarily because teachers are already highly motivated, largely selfless, and completely dedicated to their work.

    Get this through your head, America: Your children are precious. They are our future. Each has something to offer our culture, our economy, our world. Education should treat them with dignity and inspire their talents, not harness them like horses pulling a wagon.

    Retired UGA Education Professor
    John D. Hoge
    [email protected]

  49. #252- JimInNashville - reality bites, eh what?

  50. To imagine the inherent potential of a uniform standard for the nation's K-12 educational system to deliver (1) an improved education for our nation's children and (2) an improved experience for our nation's teachers, do not think of a regular production line (i.e., Henry Ford's approach) . . . think of what is called "cell production", which focuses a small group of workers (i.e., teachers) on a single product (i.e., student), referred to as "a production unit of one", with full accountability for the outcome. This approach routinely improves quality (i.e., better educated citizens) while increasing productivity by 20-30% (i.e., lower cost per student). The improved results stem from the different relationship between workers and between workers and the product (i.e., student), and the same benefits can be achieve just as easily in an education/development process as in a product production process. Here's a quick explanation of cell production or cellular manufacturing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell_production).

  51. #253 - Arlene in NY[C?] - how cooked is the currently advertised NYC 60% public HS graduation rate? Let's say it is actually 50%; what % of that 50% graduation rate is really literate & numerate in your experience? What is the $-price/graduate of those truly competent?

  52. A Washington bureaucracy to tell us what to teach? I think no is the answer to that! The Washington takeover of everything the states do must stop.

  53. Perhaps Ex-President George Bush (43) could be enlisted to bring Texas into the fold.

  54. I happen to live in Massachusetts and I do not want the standards that we expect watered-down. Instead of finding a middle, why not set the standard high, like here in Massachusetts. The vast majority of our students are managing to succeed. Are you trying to say that people in Massachusetts are smarter than the rest of the country and that no one else could do what we've done?

  55. If high national education standards are implemented without being watered down society will need to prepare to deal with drop-out rates that are far higher than our current shameful drop-out rate. We will need routes to employment that do not require high school diplomas, change child labor laws to permit the employment of the young and so forth. Get ready for 16 year old commercial truck drivers and 13 year olds waiting on you at restaurants. It will be like old times again...won't it? A military draft worked well to scoop up millions of these unfortunates back in the day. I would love to see everyone get a high quality education but have no realistic expectation of ever seeing it come to pass, not in this country.

  56. 1. I remember that over 60 years ago we fifth or sixth graders were required to memorize Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, under the proposed standards, 11th-graders will have to read it - an anecdote but I think an interesting data point.

    2. While minimum standards are no doubt beneficial, the biggest danger that I see is that with a single set of standards, if a mistake is made the results will have maximum consequence. The advantage of letting each state, perhaps school district, even teacher teach more or less as they please is that their will be a spectrum of knowledge imparted, and most assuredly a spur to innovation.
    3. By omitting a standard on science, i.e. letting the states choose what is taught, regional polarization will be fertilized: those who most need to be stimulated by concepts foreign to what they have been taught at home and in institutions which purvey superstition will be able, indeed encouraged, to remain complacent in their unchallenged, and unfounded, beliefs. Ah well, ignorance is bliss - also dangerous.

    4. The converse of item 3. is that, a consensus on a science standard would be diffiult to achieve; perhaps we could have two: science according to scientists, and science according to Pat Robertson.

  57. As a middle school teacher for 10 years and a high school teacher for 10 years. My classroom experience has shown me that national set of standards is a wise choice. School districts do change the level of rigor on standard test to help meet goals. Massachusettes and Connecticut test are some of the most challenging in the country. I think it would be nice to see states that have proven themselves to hold very high educational standards get credit. Also, states that have low standards will have a benchmark to be met. There is little doubt that states standards very greatly some are way too easy and some are highly challenging.

  58. I see I'm not the only one who thought this was not the ideal plan. Taking the parents out of the plan and the planning process just won't work. I have consistantly voted against school issuses as a matter of principle for the last 30 years. I still say let those with children in school run the schools, pay for the schools, and be responsible for what the children learn. Keep the politics out.

  59. It's about time that we at least have a standard to measure by. If states want to keep their own standard that would be okay as long as there is a way to easily compare their standard to a national standard. Employers and colleges should be able to see where a student is at compared to a national standard. States that exceed the national standard such as Massachusetts, should be allowed to adopt the national standard but also should not be penalized for that. It should be noted that their standard exceeds the federal standard when employers and colleges look. Whatever federal monies they would normally get for adopting the federal standards should still go to Massachusetts, even if they have higher standards. States like Texas should still be allowed to keep their standards but it should be easy to tell where their students are compared to the national standard. If like Massachusetts, Texas has a higher standard, they should get the federal funding. If their standard is lower, they should be allowed to do that but without the federal funding. A national standard should be just that, a standard that anyone, employer, college, anywhere, can tell what they are getting from that state.

  60. Having a centralized education across the US should have happened a very, very long time ago. Relocating from one school district to another can expose the child to another (extremely localized) set of education ideas which can be vastly different from the previous attended school district. This is a disgrace, the states must have the same requirements.

    Having different criteria happened to me relocating across TX in the 50's and early 60's and to our daughter relocating across the US; she is 39. The problem continues to be set firmly in place. The problem must be addressed and changed.

  61. Amazing! In a country famed for its individualism and recognition of human diversity this idea should receive zero support! Yet here it goes, one-size-fits all. Scary, like education in North Korea!

  62. "fifth graders would be expected to explain the differences between drama and prose" Really? And what would these differences be, considering that drama can be in both prose form and in poetic from.

  63. Another example of mono-culture. Another opportunity for extinction. We keep beating up the schools and wondering why we don't have major social and economic change. Maybe we are beating up the wrong people.

  64. Not only is this unconstitutional, it doesn't work! Students are not machines; you cannot "standardize" people, unless you're going to throw the non-standard ones on the scrap heap. Even the planners of NCLB admit this now.

  65. I thought schools were a local responsibility THE CLASSIC local responsibility.

    No, Big Brother, we do not want you to be in charge of teaching our children. Thanks, but no thanks.

  66. We could improve education by providing good literature and other material, instead of the dumbed-down, politically correct, "relevant" junk that is on the reading lists.

    Garbage in; garbage out.

    Also, students could be required to study in Study Hall -- instead of talking or doing whatever they want.

  67. National standardizing of academic requirements is nothing new to me. I attended Catholic schools and my family considered a move to another state in 1965. When investigating the proposed new school, we found that the very same books were used in California as in Ohio, and my cousins in New York and Pennsylvania also had the very same books. Look to the Catholic schools for uniformity in education across the nation and you will see a very proper use of the word "catholic," which means "universal," as opposed to the use of the title/adjective Catholic, which is a christian religion. Yes, it can be done. Would my sister and I have had an adjustment problem in the new school? I say not. Nuns are nuns and the books are the books. All the same.

  68. What should also be instituted is the neccessity for caring and involvement of the teachers. My daughter, a sophomore at a High School in White Plains, NY is gifted creatively. She has difficulty with Math and Science, and although the teachers recognize this, refuse to approach her, saying it is her responsibility to approach them. Her lack of confidence in these areas stifle her from doing so. If care is shown to the students then their grades as well as their confidence will increase and they will be able to face the challenges of college.

    When I was in High School in the 60's and didn't do well, my teachers all would approach me and say: I want to help you, please come after school or whenever. I have a lasting memory or all my teachers.My daughter wants to forget the ones she has now that take no interest in her.

  69. Good standards won't hurt anybody, but coercive and conformist application of those standards by desperate districts will hurt everybody. Chasing after federal pots of money does not make for the integrity that everyone --students, teachers, parents and communities -- truly needs. Building by building and district by district, the educators who know their communities best need to be heard, and draconian changes need to be resisted. Teaching to the test has been a terrible and destructive idea whose time, I hope, is over. I read the standards; they are good. They could be higher, but they allow the latitude that teachers really need to fit curriculum to the students and the schedules they actually have. Every classroom in the district on page 93 by September does not do that...

  70. Just do not let the Texas board of creative christian indoctrination, I mean board of education, have any say. Please no religion. Make the parents sign a contract.

  71. AAhhh, Highlight posts 'right on the mark'!! As for teaching...this 'teaching' for 'tests' is 'not' instructive at all. Besides knowing the answers you have to understand 'how to get there and where to go from there....

  72. I agree with many of the comments, that parents must take a bigger role and that there is a danger of rote learning, but this is still a big step forward. If only Congress would attempt such headway with healthcare, jobs and the economy.

  73. Tenth Amendment. You guys keep forgetting the Tenth Amendment. Education is not mentioned in the Constitution. Therefore, it is reserved to the States or to the People. This is not a Dictatorship--yet--no matter now deeply you support Captain Zero.

  74. To follow up on my comment of earlier today, one only has to read today's article on the Texas panel that dictates the content of the state's history books, to highlight the danger of standards imposed across a wide base. The panel is proposing expounding politically conservative and Christian concepts in all the state's school history books. Hail to the chief - Joe Stalin !

  75. Hear, hear!

    Speaking from Massachusetts, I could not applaud this initiative more. We should embrace the standard as a MINIMUM standard - there is nothing to preclude any state going above and beyond. Massachusetts should indeed retain a HIGHER standard where it can.

    Now, when can we get around to a similar initiative for teaching science???

  76. Finally! I support a national education standard in hopes that what my son learns in his Florida public school will be the same as what his cousins learn in Massachusetts.

  77. How likely is it that standards almost immediately acceptable to large city school systems and states which have admittedly been dumbing down curricula in the past in order to game No Child Left Behind are standards which will improve education? While I lack the professional background to adequately analyze the proposed standards, that concern alone should cause hesitance in adopting this plan without serious soul searching.

    Massachusetts apparently feels its current curriculum is more demanding than this proposal and so, is opting not to participate. New York might wish to do the same. While national standards might be an upgrade for education for the country as a whole, we should not be so hasty to sign up unless we're sure it would not be a retrograde step for our particular state.

  78. Do these politicians know anything about child or human development? Standards obsession reflects a psychology that seeks political, social, civil, and cultural conformity and a compulsion to measure results based on testing to conformity. Standards have nothing to do with education and child development issues related to individual children. We are all bound up in lots of conventional thinking, but it should be obvious to most people that if one creates a standard, this means only one thing: We create two groups. Some students meet and/or exceed the standard; the rest of us do not meet the standard. Maybe we are lucky that we cannot afford standards testing anymore.

  79. I take issue with readers who decry national standards on the basis that it's 'parents who make the difference.' Well, of course they do. Yet that seems to be consistently outside the purview of either liberals or conservatives who complain that teachers can't teach yet have no solutions for the accountability of parents

    And to those who equate national standards with some sort of assembly line... how is this different than any other product or service that needs to be delivered to a consistently high standard? More smokescreen from the right, confusing 'common national standards set to a high bar' with centralized control. Seems like this lays some badly needed ground rules in the fundamentals- what needs to be taught and understood by all children in this country.. including those in backwards states who are more concerned with politics than education. The standards help everyone- students, teachers, parents and administrators- by framing the 'big rules.' It's still up to local school boards and teachers to deliver that material in a curriculum that fosters higher-level thinking stills.

  80. Blaming kids and parents is utter hogwash!

    The education system in America has become like General Motors: We know what the customers need, and we'll give it to them even if it kills us!

    Why are teachers (K-12, and the professors in the archaic schools of education throughout our country) never to blame? Is that somehow un-American?

    You teach the way you were taught. If your professor is 60 years old, you do the math! You’re being taught techniques that are approaching 100 years old (assuming the 60 year old professor’s professor was around 60).

    Oh no, you say. We do research, we know modern techniques. Oh yea? Then why isn’t it working? If the best answer you can come up with is that it’s the parents, we’re doomed.

    The students are the customer; if you can’t meet the needs of the customer then you have three choices: Lead, Follow, or Get the Heck Out of the Way!

  81. If the level of intellectual development of the entering product were the same then equal level would be fine but children, as with inner city children have never had the early home advantages the average American child has and from the first schooling are starting so late, equal requirements seem unfair to me. George Whitney

  82. High damned time. The best way to deconstruct a culture is to dilute its educational standards until they are meaningless. By the third generation, nobody in academia has any inkling of the connection between epistemology and cultural quality. If the curricular bar is lowered any more, history won't have to wait even one generation before repeating itself. We need higher standards across the board, including in "Liberal Arts" colleges that have dropped their distribution requirements over the past four decades. Now we have de facto idiot savants running our colleges who have never taken a two-semester class outside their major and minor fields of concentration.

  83. In absolute agreement with the comment that a plus - and a strong one - is the diminishment of Texas' influence on textbooks; though I would note that the fields covered are only the three Rs - science is not an issue here. But I would still suggest that the US is too large a country in which to try to standardize. Regional differences exist and are recognized.

  84. Most nations have national standards. The US in unusual in that it doesn't. Japan, for example, has national standards, and they rank high in mathematics testing. Their school also have a seven hour day, five days week, 36 weeks a year. Also, every day, students have art, music, and swim and are generally more well-rounded than their US counterparts. Maybe we just need to teach our kids to paint, sing, and swim. Look, it doesn't matter what standards say. It matters how well-funded schools are. We have the finest, best financed military in the world. We have worst-funded schools of any first world nation. You get what you pay for.

  85. I love it that in item 7 of the English literature criteria there is a glaring grammatical error of mismatched subject/verb agreement. What grade is this skill supposed to be taught?

  86. As a teacher-to-be and a parent, I'm happy to read about the advent of national standards. I hope that the best teachers are able to give input (do the organizations mentioned as involved in this process include these? or just indirectly?), and not just administrators. It shouldn't be too difficult to come up with standards that work, as that wheel is already on all the roads in some form. It's of course just hard to get everyone on board. I support guidelines that don't get too specific, so schools can really work with them as they need. As for the rant about lousy parents that I read here, most parents care. What they need is education themselves: that they are needed and have something to offer even if they lack schooling, and how to help, specifically, geared to their culture, which is more and more diverse. There are ways to involve parents--and communities--if schools support the effort. Funding is the elephant in the room. He's a skinny beast. Let textbook companies give schools a percent of their profits every time they put out a new edition. That should limit the ridiculous frills that pass as necessary changes to textbooks. Support the teaching of reading with trade books, which are often reasonably priced.

  87. Vertically aligning standards so that skills and topics learned in prior grades are then scaffolded and built upon in the next is a good idea. Obviously, parental involvement in monitoring, encouraging, and reinforcing their child's academic progress and behavior in school and at home is fundamental to long term success as an adult. It is hard to generalize nationwide parental involvement in education without the statement appearing to be a generational or "knee-jerk" reaction. Many student's have families where mother and father are both working. That was not the case in prior generations. Some even work second part-time jobs. Excuses for non-parental involvement are being made here. It is just a fact that time for parental involvement is more limited. The double responsibility for parenting and teaching has been placed on teachers which is an impossible and unfair task. Teachers still get the blaim for poor performance, and unions step in correctly to fight for the teachers.

    Schools have become closed to the communities they represent. An "us vs. them" mentality in dialogue and actions between parents and teachers is the result. This is a far cry from 19th century schools where educators came from the community, and neighborhoods and individuals schools were open to collectively and effectively
    problem solving learning and behavior issues. In many schools across the country, that dialogue between parents and teachers is broken. Superintendents, administrators, teachers, and parents need to convene periodic "town hall" discussions where parents and teachers voices are equally heard. Pragmatic actions in response to concerns shoud be
    implemened in the schools

    State and federal assessments for teacher and student competence is only one measurement of a school's success. Many teachers are correct that tests don't measure growth over time, depth of knowledge. Most importantly the ability for student's to create, process, and adapt knowledge to real world scenarios at work and in every day life is the key assessment which is sorely missing in state assessments of student and school achievement. Band-Aid testing to determine whether student's are learning core subjects at appropriate grade levels of achievement, and that teachers are effective at educating students to learn basic knowledge is a narrow lens to view overall academic achievement indeed.

    State testing of grade and subject level knowledge doesn't work unless you begin to treat the teaching profession and the field of education professionally. Teachers are right that in terms of professional training, pay, and research opportunities the field is treated more like a career job than a professional career. To many teachers, state testing is not only didactic, but it also sends the wrong message; you are not a professional or effective in implementing the curriculum. Ironically, most teachers go into the field to match their creativity to the state curriculum standards. Teaching to the test leaves the teacher in a creative vacuum and feeling like a worker bee in the beehive. The most respected, effective, and educated teachers should clearly be given opportunities to work in conjunction with education professors in research on best practices in the classroom and teacher training. Teachers need the opportunity to do district wide research on how effective are specific teaching strategies with pupils in individual schools. Giving educators the opportunity to work with college professors would go along way to legitimizing the field and bridge the clear gap between educational theory in education departments that train teachers, and the effectiveness of the theory in practice in the classroom.

    Teaching is not just state testing, nor educational research that seems to strictly come from university departments who don't know or work collaboratively constructing those teacher training and curriculum standards with teachers. Instead it is a a field that mixture of research (science) and art. The best educators know that fact. It is unfortunate that they aren't fully legitimized by the society to demonstrate those faculties. Clearly, the students could use that expertise in the classroom.

  88. A minimum standard in educational achievement is certainly necessary -- if only to compare with the progress in other countries. Teachers will rise to the task with support. However, our inner city schools have more poverty issues than bad teachers. It may be wise to observe sociological-economic status initially, for all students should learn the basics in some form.

    Ed Follick DTheol [MA Ed & MEd]

  89. I can scarcely contain my disgust and dismay that Governor Perry has chosen to play politics with the education of Texas children rather than try to do what is right and good for the citizens of Texas. I hope there is a special ring in hell for those that prefer pandering to special interests over taking good, strong, and positive steps to establish a strong foundation for the future.

    Perhaps a better question is - what is Rick Perry afraid of? Are his policies so poor he fears having them compared to others across the nation? And to penalize the citizens by essentially blocking any hope of benefiting from federal funds that are paid by taxpayers in Texas, just like the other states. These types of political shenanigans simply make me sick.

  90. "In keeping his state out, Gov. Rick Perry argued that only Texans should decide what children there learn. " And apparently the Texas board of Ed. wants to decide for all the other states too. Remember folks, it's only big government seizing control of things when it's liberals in power.

  91. I agree that changes are necessary. Standards must be higher and not in just Math, Science, and English. There needs to be standards for Social Studies, Language and the Arts.In addition change the archaic drop-out rules...No more dropping out at 16..require education until 18, and tie drivers license to staying in school, with progress. Set realistic behavior standards..most of all spend the money necessary to do it right..Yes even raise taxes. WIith our broken education system we unfortunately get what we pay for!

  92. Many people may not like him, but I'll stand for Gov. Perry when it comes to education. Glad he said he wanted none of this...more indoctrination and dumbing down. What a shame!! Go Perry!!!

  93. To Post #7. That's true that someone several time zones away may eat your lunch. But how so? Because they decided to master the 3R's, not ignore them, as you would suggest we do (and which we've already done).

  94. I don't really know if this is a good idea, but if Alaska and Texas are against it, it can't be that bad.

  95. I've grown extremely tired of the phrase "rammed through." These are non-binding; they are adopted freely from state to state, without the involvement of the Federal government. There's nothing to ram; there's nothing to go through.

    Tell these so-called education experts to wake up and talk to an arbitrary American high school student about any topic, and it'll become pretty clear pretty fast that an Aristotle-style belief that every teacher is a one-on-one tutor who should be free to cover whatever he or she wants is a whole lot of nonsense.

  96. I have to wonder what will happen to those standards if the minorities are able to meet them at a much lower percentage than whites. Will they be deemed biased and lowered. That seems to be the answer today.

  97. The proof of the pudding is always in the tasting! While the concept of having a uniform set of national standards may be appealing, in light of the belief that American schools are systemically failing our youth, the NGA's (National Governors Association) intention seems to be to remedy that malaise by trying out an untested set of standards in some, not all, states and hoping the uniformity will do the trick. This could prove to be a colossal waste of time, resources, and energy. Groups like NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) and NCTM have maintained for years that their standards were the national standards only to find that few states adopted their standards as written because of the required state testing for No Child Left Behind. State agencies have tailored standards to fit assessment criteria. There have been de facto national standards in mathematics and English for years, the standards set by the College Board and A.C.T. Have the norms set by the College Board and others had much influence on the quality of education for ALL students? Not when employees at schools still don't believe that all children should go to college. Will these new national standards change that attitude?

    While the efforts made by CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) have been in earnest, one cannot help but feel they have not been entirely without self interest in the project. Look on their website at their corporate partners/sponsors. There you'll find ETS, Pearson Evaluation Systems, McGraw Hill, NWEA, The College Board, DRC, and Measured Progress. These corporations have a vested interest in this project. Consider also the secrecy accompanying the selection of writers and reviewers. The process lacked much of the transparency promised. If Massachusetts regards its own standards as better, more challenging; why would they want to adopt these standards? Wouldn’t every state want to have the best educated students?

    I taught mathematics. My impression of those standards was that they are not worthy of adoption. I'll supply just a couple of reasons. Percent should be introduced in grade 5 and mastered in grade 6. Why wait until grade 7 for something that is used practically every day and is surely a part of these students vocabulary by grade 4? Why are so many of the standards listed for high school geometry associated with affine (or projective) geometry--a subject generally taught in college? Wouldn't Euclid's axiomatic system, which I believe is commonly taught in every country, be a better generator of standards for US students? Are eleven and twelve really "teen" numbers?

    I'm not sure all the states will like the taste of the "Common Core Standards" pudding. We need to let the states decide their own standards and refine them as they see fit to ensure their children will be well educated. Either that, or have a few states try them out before embracing a broader adoption. To me the project smells of arrogance: Bureaucrats thinking that some states are too stupid to adopt strong standards for their students. Political views that state departments of education are more concerned with avoiding federal penalties than the quality of their youth’s education. Maybe some states do have weaker standards, but they revise them every so often—they don’t have to stay that way. The proposed standards are not the right standards for all states. We still live in a country where states are responsible for public education. Over the years the federal government has laid down many mandates for education, which they haven't fully funded. Let's fund all the requirements the Federal Government has set, then we'll see if our education system is really so terrible.

  98. The standards seemed fine, but the texts the authors recommended gave me some pause. Yes, the appendix offers more titles, but I thought that it was pretty alarming that none of the middle school fiction they highlighted came out after 1976. Little Women is one of my all-time favorites, but it's a mistake to overlook the excellent young adult novels coming out today. Their choices signaled a real disconnect from the people in charge and the people who are actually in the classroom.

    I don't know if new standards will make much difference anyway. While it's great that states will share standards, these aren't going to fix the problems that really keep my kids from learning.

  99. I would agree that there are better school models than our current public system. I would emphasize a learning based, not fact based, approach. We should teach kids how to learn, how to ask questions, and how to come to conclusions on their own.

    I would not support Texas-style conservative (or other so-called liberal) politicization of school books which want to jamb political theory down their throats. I would not support Japanese-style conformity and memorization, turning out little robots who have no ingenuity or individuality. And I would not support, in any way, teaching of religion or pseudo-scientific hogwash as alternatives to science or the founding of our country.

  100. What a waste of time and money! Unless and until there are laws prohibiting teacher unions, any standards that come out of this effort will be advisory only-- the unions will never permit enforcement of standards as that would require teachers to meet standards.

  101. How about getting parents involved.That would require a move towards competition and parents choosing the best schools for their children.That would mean VOUCHERS.Vouchers would be about the best way for America to stop it's decline in education and overall well being.

  102. In keeping his state out, Gov. Rick Perry argued that only Texans should decide what children there learn.

    Yet another reason why I HATE my governor. I'm the teacher, I should be allowed to decide what needs to be taught, not a bunch of non-educators who sit and rub elbows with Perry. Fellow Texans, VOTE BILL WHITE for GOVERNOR so we can stop Perry from screwing with our educational system!

  103. "Standards," in and of themselves, aren't bad. But who is held to those standards?

    Are we going to hold students to these standards? Will they be required to demonstrate that they've accomplished what they should in order to move on to the next grade? That will probably work, though there are definite downsides to that sort of system in that it fails to recognize the small but definitely present minority of students who really aren't able to reach the goals.

    Are we going to hold teachers and schools responsible for these standards? That's the system we've got now. It doesn't work, because the performance of the student results from a multitude of factors of which the education he or she receives is only one, and often not the most important.

    Changing the standards could be a slight improvement on the current system. Ending the practice of blaming teachers for families' and society's problems, and making families and students more responsible for their own learning, that would be a major improvement.

    But guess which of those improvments will get better media coverage and garner more votes for politicians?

  104. does this national panel read about the texas school book selection and the kansas state board of education evolution debate? how will this national standard escape the ideological wars that have trashed public education for the last 100 years or more? the fight is tough enough locally.

  105. Let's hope that many states adopt to end the perverse effect of having Texas set the standards for textbooks. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

  106. In theory a single standard for schools is good. If applied correctly, it would assure children and parents alike that students throughout the nation are receiving equal educational opportunities and being held to a uniform measure of progress.

    The challenge arises when some of the educational materials adopted under this proposal evoke opposition from parents and key demographic groups for fear that the educational content diverges from strongly-held religious, cultural and ideological beliefs.

    The increasing diversity of our society demands the careful examination, adoption and application of any single standard to protect both the educational and social expectations of America in the 21st Century.

    Any program that fails to do this will not pass the test.

  107. The problem with these "standards" is 1. They generally tend toward mediocrity: 2. They often emphasize the trivial, 3. If you read the Constitution of the US, you will notice that the Federal Government has no authority to regulate education. I realize that it's only the Constitution, but it is the agreement my ancestors made when they voted to join the Union, and I think it is incumbent upon the Government to abide by that agreement.
    In my own chemistry course, I introduced my students to many concepts in that subject that were apparently considered too advanced for high school students by the folks who write standardized tests. They often did not do as well as students from other sections, but they did magnificently according to one of the Chemistry professors at the University of Vermont. And I taught chemistry right to the end of the year.
    As a student in the late 1940's in New York State, my chemistry teacher stopped teaching chemistry in April, and we had books with old Regents Exams going back to the 1020's which we worked on until the end of the year. We did well in the Regents exams, but when I worked in the Quality Control labs of Geigy's dyestuffs division, none of that stuff was useful. I've often thought since that memorizing the various steps of Fritz Haber's process for making nitrates from atmospheric Nitrogen is all very nice, but it would really be useful to learn how Fritz figured out the heats of formation, etc. so as to form a guide to solving future problems.
    In my experience, these sorts of programs are usually thought up by administrators who are control freaks, and who do not trust their teachers. Granted, some teachers are poorly prepared. One section of my Environmental studies course was taken over by another teacher back in the 1980's. The guy had a science teaching certificate from a prestigious local college, but he didn't know what pH was! And he certainly didn't know how to teach the concept to kids who were not plannning to go into science. But the answer to this is not some centralized system. It is to be sure that teachers know what they are teaching, and are assigned subjects that they are competent to handle.
    If I recall correctly, the primary goal of American education was to turn out citizens who could vote intelligently at least 51% of the time. That's why we try to put ALL of our kids thru school. Many of these national school systems have tests at the end of 8th or 9th grade which are used to steer students into certain pathways. A former daughter-in-law who was from Germany would have been a good B student in any US high school, but she had been sent into a vocational program and was a whiz at hotel management. She'd had no history courses, no literature, no sciuence. That stuff was for the 10% of the students who were sent to the high class "gymnasiom". American schools make an awful lot of silk purses out of sows ears that German, Russian and Asian schools would never deal with. But do you really want a school system like that?

  108. The article states"fifth graders would be expected to explain the differences between drama and prose ..."
    Drama is defined as "a composition in in prose or verse presenting dialog ..."

    One can explain the differences between prose and verse, but not prose and drama.

  109. National Standards are a good idea.

    but what about these folks...

    -800,000 Homeless Students and risng. Less than 25% of Homeless Students graduate from high school.

    -only around 30% of Special Education students graduate with a regular high school diploma. NYC stats for this population are even worse then the national average , some years below 20%. We have approximately 7 Million Special Education students in the US.

    - 40% of female drop-outs are due to pregnancy and a significant percent of males drop-out to be parents as well.

    - foster care children have graduation rates between 25% and 40% around the nation.

    - drug and drinking addictions by students and their parents cause havoc in homes and schools. Teaching a drug addict Geometry is impossible.

    Onwards..........

  110. I'm a teacher, and I'm all for this. Long before ever thought of being a teacher, I was all for this.

    In fact, I've long advocated a national standard while the counterarguments to my view were that local school boards should control education standards.

    Conservative pushback? NO! The colleagues most offended by my views were my liberal friends. I never ever understood that.

    Just good to see that education is now taken seriously enough that no one's crying "Socialism!" when the states start getting together. Last I looked, it's "The United States IS" rather than "The United States ARE".

  111. Welcome to the twentieth century! Now all you need is some decent health care, government regulations for your charlatans in the banking industry, some measure of gun control , a livable minimum wage, a more distinct separation of church and state, criminalization of fascist groups like you have done with communism, gun control so as to reduce your homicide rate from FORTY times that of Canada and you too could be a civilized nation like Canada. Well, maybe there are a few more elements missing, but seriously, how can your nation have gone so long ignoring the basics of civilized life? Even your colleges and universities have no common standards of accomplishment. The malapropisms of your last president revealed this most embarrassingly. So go ahead and borrow all the socialist elements from us that you need. Your kids will thank you later if they can keep from getting gunned down in the playground!

  112. I do not think Universal National Standards is a bad idea.
    From experience over a forty year span I can state that when students moved into suburban New Jersey from states similar to Texas and Georgia they were lagging behind our population. Their records would show that they were above average students, but in Central NJ they were average or below. I couldn't help but wonder if that "failing" school in Rhode Island would be a "passing" school in Mississippi. It is all too subjective. My Students who attended colleges in Florida and the Carolinas would report back that our local High School was more challenging. Often I hear and read sweeping statements that education in America is failing , when the truth is (to paraphrase Tip O'Neill), "All education is local."
    I hope the committee looked at the International Baccalaureate Standards. We are living more and more in a global community. As a science educator I regret that no one has the political will to separate church and state and include Science Standards. Science is so important to our economic growth as a nation. However, some knowledge of Civics might help bring us together as a nation. Uniting Standards might just be what this nation needs.

  113. Everyone needs to also read the NYT article about what Texas is proposing for their social studies material. http://www.nytimes.com... This rewriting of history or the slanting of the facts and even the complete fabrication of "facts" is what makes this country so ignorant, divisive and intolerant of other ideas. The religious influence they want to exert should not be in these text books either. We as a nation need to be teaching the facts even if they are not flattering to us as a nation. We have done some pretty horrible things and we should face them honestly and not just bury or sugar coat an ugly past as if it never happened. It is scarey what is happening to this country and I am not referring to the change. I am referring to those who are so scared of change that they are clinging to ways that are not working for us as a nation. Our country is becoming no better than Iraq or Iran whose religious fanatics want everyone dead who does not believe as they do. These religious right wing conservatives are our Taliban and they are ruining this country and our freedoms.

  114. I am currently working on a local School District committee discussing (i) what children should be learning each year in K-8?, (ii) how to vertically (i.e., one grade's standards meshing with the next grade) and horizontally (i.e., each grade at each elementary school mastering the same standards)align curriculum?, (iii) how to assess if these standards are reached? and (iv) how to make sure our curriculum is "world-class" (i.e., will it prepare our kids to compete in the 21st century)?.

    It is remarkable how little practical guidance there is - at the State level, National level - and it is unfortunate that the truly successful public schools and school districts in this nation don't disseminate their standards on the internet.

    Because of this lack of a "Model Set of Standards" (which other professions, such as law, have in abundance), we find ourselves "re-inventing" the wheel - coming up with our own standards from scratch. The lack of central guidance (not control, but guidance) is truly shocking. As a result, we have a cottage industry throughout this country of parents, teachers and administrators (with all their conflicting beliefs and interests) trying to create new standards.

    I don't believe in rote learning and one size fits all, but isn't there a better way? Kudos to the National Association of Governors for taking a crack at this - more work on "Model Standards" and more sharing of ideas (particularly by the successful schools/districts in this country) needs to be done.

  115. They'll be kicking and screaming in SC. 85 school districts (not counting charter, governor's and opportunity schools - that would be 103) and 46 counties. At least 85 crowns on 85 pointy little heads who would never dream of giving up their little bit of power. Then we've got the SC Dept of Education which is one of the most useless agencies in SC. They'd all be battling for power, power, power and never thinking about educating children. Pity.

  116. These standards still seem woefully inadequate when compared to international expectations. English and math are important, but what about history and scientific literacy? Kids should have a basic grasp of world history by the time they are in high school and should understand the scientific method and hypothesis testing.

    I came here from a former Soviet republic in second grade. I could already solve a basic linear equation, where as kids here were just starting to do basic multiplication.

  117. When I watched the announcement of this plan on ABC- the panel member sharing the information made the statement," where the students are AT".HELP! Where do they get these panel members, and what credentials do they possess. The needs and backgrounds of students from different geographic areas are so different from each other. We have very few subways in New Mexico. ( Except the sandwich type.) Educators know that each individual child needs personal goals , each school needs school goals, each district needs district goals. How can the nation have the same requirements for all students? This is a recipe for another educational failure. We don't need another No Child Left Behind. Instead of panels let's spend that money on the students.

  118. Why do people think in a country as big and diverse as the US one standard will fit everybody? Do we all drive exactly the same kind of car? Do we all have the same kind of house? No. We are different all across the nation, with differnt values and priorities. How can you set one standard for the over achiever and the under. THIS IS STUPID! And I think schools have more than enough money to teach the students what they need to know. The problem is schools continue to areas they have no business.

  119. My question is, how will a student today use Lincoln's address as they travel to Mars? Are the individuals currently living in the International Space Station concern with sentence structure? Why are educators and others afraid to give children an education that will prepare them for the future. I don't understand why every child in the U.S. don't have a computer and wireless service.
    Our education standard for the U.S. should be as follows:every child in the U.S.should be given a computer for on-line courses starting at the age of 2. These courses for the early years should be simple problem solving, art, learning 2 languges and music. At age 6 every child would be assign to a space program. At age 10 children would attend a NASA school or international space school for years of intense course work. This type of educational standard would be for this century.
    The current educational system in the U.S. is boring and a failure. The proof is our prison population. The propose single standard for all schools will do nothing to prepare children for their future.

  120. It seems ironic that side by side in todays paper is this article and the one about Texas trying to include a conservative and Christian slant n its public schools.

    With this example in Texas and other states that have strong cultural positions,how can the states ever agree on a national standard and common curriculum for public schools. Added to this is the major flaw of No Child Left Behind which ignores child and developmental psychology and insists all children learn the same things at the same time or the schools are deemed failures.
    As a retired public school teacher and administrator, I see these two issues rendering any national standards as destined to fail to solve the problems of k-12 education in the U.S.

  121. What is going to happen to the Southern States especially Mississippi and Texas when they have to educate their children past the third grade?

  122. No Child Left Behind (a massive intrusion by the federal government) is a failure. The Obama administration proposes reallocating tax dollars to states that walk the Obama line, further intruding into schools.
    Doubling down on failure isn’t change, it isn’t leadership, it’s insanity.

  123. I'll support any idea that will change the status quo: letting Texas imposing its right-wing revisionist textbook standards on the rest of us.

  124. And which US Congressmen have stock in the textbook companies. This is an absolute joke! The problem that many schools have is...

    1) Parents are not making school a priority for their kids by being involved. Being a single mom and working 60 hours a week, I know that it's a challenge to be involved, but it was my responsibility. If I don't promote the importance of education, then it's my failure - not the failure of the teachers and the school system. Parents are the first and most important element of a good education.

    2) Public Service uniions that do nothing but promote mediocre teachers when there are so many good teachers who are trying to do a good job inspite of the school boards and bureacracy that invades the school systems. If a teacher is lousy, and all the teachers out there know which ones are not doing the job, then fire them.

    3) The government cannot do anything right, least of all something as extensive as creating national standards. This is one big excuse to spend more money and grow government power.

    The no child left behind 'idea' has resulted in cheating on the parts of some teachers and it's a disgrace. In ATL for example, we have an on-going issue where some teachers change their students answers on the standard tests so that they get a bonus and a raise. This has been going on for 2 years and we are still 'being reviewed' by federal auditors. The School board insists that everything is OK - they have investigated and found no issues. Well, that's not what was found by the three different auditors and that's not what was found when results were reviewed for all schools across the state. Turns out the problem resides in the city of ATL. GA is not known for awesome public education, but there are some good schools and they are not the public schools in the city.

    Stop making stupid excusess and start promoting education at home. Don't bother with new text books and computers and stop trying to socially re-engineer this country!

  125. and this state is going to elect Perry again? Education here is SO BAD in most schools it is a wonder that the University of Texas is considered to rank so highly. Can anyone say Out-of-State students?
    Now the State Board of Education, who should be incarcerated for damages caused, is going to decide to teach creationism and re-write American history. Alert to the rest of the country: Do you realize the impact Texas decisions have on your states? The textbook market is so HUGE here that publishers publish what Texas will purchase in state adoption. Beware!!!