To the Editor:
In the 19th century, Horace Mann wanted to establish a national education system in the United States. But he realized that such a system would never work, because of the political pressures of the various religious groups found throughout the country. Even today, our science curricula are under attack from those who want their children to learn creationism as opposed to other views about how Earth began.
In looking at countries where education is nationalized, one must stop and examine the characteristics of these countries. When looking at South Korea and Finland, for example, are there substantial minority ethnic groups as there are in the United States? Is instruction carried out in more than one language for the benefit of those students whose home language is something other than the national language?
How do countries with nationalized educational programs handle instruction for those students who have learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, physical impairments, or any other affliction that might have an effect on their ability to learn in mainstream fashion?
It would seem that a national curriculum would produce a more “student-centric” educational strategy only for the mainstreamed student, while possibly ignoring the needs of those students on the educational fringes.
I am sorry that Beth Rabbitt, who wrote the Commentary “On Behalf of the Student Nomads” (Feb. 20, 2013), missed out on the opportunity to explore the history and culture of the many places in which she lived during her school years. Had she done so, she might have come to appreciate the regional history and culture that many consider to be a strength of the melting-pot philosophy of our forefathers.
Donald E. Davis
The writer is a retired teacher, principal, and superintendent.
A version of this article appeared in the April 24, 2013 edition of Education Week as Nationalizing Education Would Be a Mistake