It seems that national standards advocates are feeling their oats enough to start talking about which standards they like. Randi Weingarten:
Here in the United States, students in Massachusetts, which has been recognized for setting high standards, scored on a par with the highest-performing countries in both math and science on a recent international assessment. After Minnesota adopted rigorous math standards, students there ranked fifth in the world on the mathematics portion of that assessment. Academic standards for students in the rest of the country, unfortunately, are a mixed bag.
Yes, good luck selling Alabama, Utah, Texas, Kansas, Alaska, etc. on the idea that they should take the advice of the head of the teachers' union and model their curriculum on Massachusetts and Minnesota. That's going to go over really well. The reality of our current political situation is that we have a socially conservative, obstructionist Southern regional party and everyone else. I don't see how we're going to get to national standards in that climate. The problem is, however, a good distraction though for people who might otherwise find more effective ways to screw up public education.
For the record, this is my view of how standards should be determined and organized, in order of preference:
- Local/community standards;
- Regional standards (i.e., about five different sets for the country);
- State standards;
- National standards.