May 24, 1995

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Vol. 14, Issue 35
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Less than two years ago, when the retired publisher Walter H. Annenberg announced his plans to give $500 million to America's public schools, one of his hopes was that other foundations, corporations, and wealthy individuals would join his philanthropic crusade for education.
The House Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education, Training, and Lifelong Learning approved a broad workforce-development bill last week that would give states more control over vocational-education and job-training dollars.
Higher standards" and professional development have become unifying battle cries of school reformers. Like apple pie, few can oppose efforts to "professionalize" education, but the real questions are: which standards, decided by whom, and assessed how? And professional development for what?
Even as Republicans in Congress are touting the virtues of local control over government programs, a libertarian legal group in Washington is asking federal courts around the country to usurp control over high school curricula. The Institute for Justice has filed suit against elected school officials in Chapel Hill, N.C., claiming that a community-service requirement for high school graduation violates students' constitutional rights.
Consider a Christian academy that requires students to study fundamentalist theology for 12 years but requires no coursework in science (though scientific beliefs are occasionally mentioned in history textbooks which are, of course, written by fundamentalist theologians). Biology recapitulates the first chapter of Genesis, history begins with Adam and Eve, and morality is essentially a matter of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. Needless to say, the academy's teachers are not themselves required to have done any coursework in science--and few have.
FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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