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A stand on standards

Historians and educators are weeks away from unveiling revisions to the voluntary national standards for U.S. and world history. But House members are already denouncing what they haven't yet seen.

Ninety lawmakers, all but four of them Republicans, have signed on as co-sponsors of a resolution that asks the House to disapprove of the proposed standards outlining what students in grades 5 through 12 should know about history. Though nonbinding, such resolutions tend to carry moral authority and political weight.

The Senate passed a similar resolution 99-1 in January 1995. But that was shortly after the oft-criticized original benchmarks were released, and long before two independent review panels of historians, educators, and policymakers concluded that with some rewriting the documents could--and should--be salvaged. (See Education Week, Oct. 18, 1995.)

That hasn't deterred Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the author of the House measure. Like other critics, he contends that the U.S. standards portray the nation in a negative light.

As for the still-under-wraps revisions, Mr. Smith's spokesman said his boss is pressing on because he expects them to be "too little, too late."

"The problems are so deep with these standards that he is convinced simple revisions are not nearly enough," said Allen Kay. "He is convinced that they need to be scrapped and [the process] started over again."

School-to-work on-line

The departments of Education and Labor have created a school-to-work "home page" on the Internet's World Wide Web.

The agencies jointly administer the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, a Clinton administration plan enacted in 1994.

Their Web site aims to connect "state and local grantees, employers, schools, labor groups, parents, students, and the general public as they work together to develop and implement school-to-work systems across the nation," according to a news release.

It offers information on the federal grant program, news releases, meeting schedules, a list of technical-assistance providers, and information about school-to-work practices across the country. It even includes news about the current Miss America, Shawntel Smith, who drew fire from some Republicans last year when she chose the school-to-work transition as her "platform issue."

The site can be found at http://www.stw.ed.gov.

--Karen Diegmueller & Julie A. Miller

Vol. 15, Issue 21

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