One question that has longed bothered me about all of the conversation regarding having one set of national standards for all American schoolchildren is, “If we are going to have standards at all, why should these standards be different from state to state?”
Forget the merit of the standards chosen and the text exemplars cited in the latest information released about the Common Core Standards Initiative. (I know, hard to do.) But can anyone explain the benefit to me of Michigan have one set of English Language Arts standards, Georgia having another and then Texas having yet a third?
And this goes on across all fifty states.
Do any two states at all even share the exact same set of standards? Not any two neighboring states like Mississippi and Arizona? Okay, my geography is off — but that’s because I went to school before there were national standards! (Okay, I am straying here…) I think national standards are the solution for this problem. What is the benefit, especially when American families are more transient than ever moving from state to state, of having different content standards in the same content area across the entire country?
Now before I get pounded with criticism of why national standards are bad, I feel the need to say I hear and find some merit in the arguments against them… and am not even going to try and weigh in on those right now. It’s a different question I am asking.
(And yes, I get the nationalizing education is bad for America argument. And yes, I do hear the complaints about how this is a blatant power grab for centralized control of all our classrooms by politicians. And yes, I do see the link as to how this might actually prove to be a chance for monopolistic corporate behemoths to swoop on in and milk every last dollar from the taxpayer kitty with unprecedented efficiency and accuracy — though I think textbook companies are sweating right now much more so than they are jubilant… more on that at another time. All reasonable, solid points to debate and consider for sure.)
But can someone please make a case for why it is better for individual states to have their own individual sets of standards when the gaping holes between the degree of rigor between some states is so wide, and the language used to describe the same basic ideas from state to state is so varied, that to look at all of them on a kitchen table with a bird’s eye perspective would simply leaving you scratching you head?
Forgetting the political implications of it all (and I know, if education is anything, it’s political… though silly me thought it was supposed to be about the kids) why is a state to state to state standards system better than a national standards system?
In essence, am I missing something or doesn’t this put us all on the same page so that Florida doesn’t value metaphors more than Illinois values relationships between main and subordinate characters in a text while Nevada finds value in etymology?
If you agree with standards-based education, the Common Core Standards Initiative seems kinda logical. If you do not agree with standards-based education then certainly, you are in no way going to be a fan of this. But if you agreed with standards-based education yet think that the content standards for math, English, science and so on should vary depending on which side of the state border you happen to be standing on, I’d love to hear your reasoning.