Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Honest Advocacy for National Standards

I for one am glad that the Gates Foundation is going to have a crack at writing national standards. Most talk about national standards is pure phoniness, the equivalent of calling for a blue-ribbon commission to come up with a plan for social security. Just tell us what you think! Don't pretend this can be made non-political. What do you propose, exactly? Which standards?

We've been doing standards a long time now, as have many other nations. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of versions out there. Surely an advocate for national standards can propose an actual set of standards. Are there no good enough standards? If not, why would we imagine that after trying and failing for a couple decades we'll suddenly get it right in some undefined way?

Of course, as soon as you propose a set of standards, half the country (at least) will jump down your neck -- which is the problem with national standards. If Gates thought running small schools was hard, wait until it tries mediating a settlement in the math wars. But really, if you don't have the stomach to take that on, you should shut up about national standards, so kudos to Gates for taking it on.

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