Panel: U.S. Should Create National Standards, Spend Billions More on Pre-K-12 Schooling

August 23, 2005 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Includes updates and/or revisions

A liberal-leaning group of political leaders and education policy experts is urging a new set of strategies for boosting the quality of public education in the United States, including voluntary national academic standards, preschool for every child, an extended school day and year, and a massive new amount of federal spending on education—at least $325 billion over the next 10 years.

Members of an education policy task force, including Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, made their recommendations public on Aug. 23 at the National Press Club.

Read “Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer: A Progressive Education Agenda for a Stronger Nation” from the Center for American Progress.

The panel’s report, “Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer: A Progressive Education Agenda for a Stronger Nation,” originally was designed as a response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the 2002 law that requires every state to test students in grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics, among other reforms.

Gov. Napolitano, who likened the challenge of improving U.S. schools to the 1960s’ race to the moon, said the task force’s report does not stress “failure” or test scores only, as some educators contend is the case with NCLB, but calls for other ways to hold schools accountable. She said new investments in education and national attention to workforce issues will help America keep pace with the fast-developing economies of China and India.

“My friends, we’re in the midst of an international brain race,” she said, adding that moving on the task force’s recommendations would “give notice to the world that the race is on.”

The panel’s other leaders, New York investment firm executive Philip D. Murphy, and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and writer Roger Wilkins, said American democracy is threatened without more attention to educational improvement from political leaders and the public.

“It’s not so much the challenge outside [the U.S.] that I care so deeply about. It’s the challenge inside—Appalachia, Indian reservations,” and other poor sections of the country, said Mr. Wilkins, a former District of Columbia school board member who teaches history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

The task force and its report were sponsored by two liberal-leaning think tanks, the Center for American Progress and the Institute for America’s Future, both based in the nation’s capital. John Podesta, a former White House chief of staff under President Clinton and the president of the Center for American Progress, said last year that the 12-member task force would be bipartisan and would examine issues without regard to politics.

But only one task force member was introduced as a Republican: former U.S. Rep. John H. Buchanan of Alabama, who sounded a liberal tone in calling for special attention to equal educational opportunities for poor and minority students and their families. “Equity is what we need the most,” the Republican said. “We have to put our money where are mouths are.”

Task-force leaders acknowledged the costs of their proposals would be staggering for federal and state governments.

Mr. Murphy, a senior director at the Jersey City, N.J. -based Goldman, Sachs & Co. said he hoped to convince other business leaders and government officials that such spending would be a worthy investment. “You have to phase stuff in,” he said in an interview. “You can’t do it overnight. That’s probably the only pragmatic solution” to the costs. Traveling internationally, he said he understood “up close and personal the threat to our economy, and frankly, our civilization’s place in the world” if the United States doesn’t take action.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Education were not immediately available for comment on the report.

The task force held six hearings around the nation earlier this year to gather ideas about what the public wants from schools. Comments from those hearings were used in developing the report, Mr. Podesta said.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal The Senate Gun Bill: What It Would Mean for School Safety, Mental Health Efforts
Details of a bipartisan Senate agreement on guns outline additional funding to support student mental health programs.
6 min read
Protesters take to the streets of downtown Detroit June 11 to call for new gun laws. One holds up a sign that says "policy and change."
Protesters call for new gun laws in Detroit's March for Our Lives event earlier this month.
KT Kanazawich for Education Week
Federal What Educators Need to Know About Senators' Bipartisan Deal on Guns, School Safety
In addition to gun restrictions, a tentative compromise would also fund mental health and school safety programs—but it faces hurdles.
4 min read
Protesters hold up a sign that shows the outline of a rifle struck through with a yellow line at a demonstration in support of stronger gun laws.
Protesters gather for the March For Our Lives rally in Detroit, among the demonstrations against gun violence held on the heels of recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.
KT Kanazawich for Education Week
Federal Senate Negotiators Announce a Deal on Guns, Breaking Logjam
The agreement offers modest gun curbs and bolstered efforts to improve school safety and mental health programs.
5 min read
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., speaks during a rally near Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 10, 2022, urging Congress to pass gun legislation. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Federal Education Secretary: 'Let's Transform Our Appreciation of Teachers to Action'
Miguel Cardona shared strategies to help recruit, develop, and retain effective teachers.
5 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the White House on April 27.
Susan Walsh/AP