Why Common Standards Won't Work
In 2010, with the blessing and encouragement of the nation’s president and secretary of education, we are establishing “common-core standards” to address the historical claim that our public schools are failures. In the 1890s, a similar lament was voiced by the group known as the Committee of Ten:
“When college professors endeavor to teach chemistry, physics, botany, zoology, meteorology, or geology to persons of 18 or 20 years of age, they discover that in most instances new habits of observing, reflecting, and recording have to be painfully acquired by the students—habits which they should have acquired in early childhood.”
Their solution? Almost exactly what the current common-standards pursuit offers us. In fact, the bureaucratic approach to schools—establish content, prescribe content, and measure student acquisition of that content—has been visited and revisited decade after decade for more than a century now. It has always...
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