"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, August 16, 2007

No Way, Jose, On National Standards

From Education Week:

The National Conference of State Legislatures has taken a hard line against any form of national academic standards, declaring last week that any national attempt to unite school curricula across states would be unacceptable until perceived flaws in the federal No Child Left Behind Act are fixed.

The strongly worded new policy against national standards—even voluntary ones—prompted virtually no debate and was approved on a voice vote during the Denver-based group’s business meeting at its annual conference here, which drew nearly 9,000 attendees from Aug. 5-9. NCSL policies such as the new one on national standards set the Washington lobbying agenda of the legislative group.

The policy reads, in part: “We need rigorous state standards that are anchored in real world demands. … This can be most readily accomplished through individual state refinement of standards … not through federal action—which flies in the face not only of the role of states since the inception of our system of providing education, but the historical role of states and local school districts in funding education with diminished federal support.”

Much of the group’s opposition to national standards is rooted in its dislike for the NCLB law, which is up for reauthorization before Congress. The NCSL, which has been among the most unified, vocal critics of the federal school accountability law, issued a report in February 2005 calling for more flexibility for states.

“The idea of going to national standards when we’re dealing with a system that has imposed itself on all 50 states—with the emphasis on process—would at best be premature,” New York state Sen. Stephen Saland, a Republican, said at last week’s ncsl meeting. Sen. Saland was a co-chairman of the group’s task force on the federal education law. “This would not be the time.” . . . .

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