National Standards Now?

By Jack Jennings

Are national standards the way to improve public schools?

In March, President Obama told the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: “Our curriculum for eighth-graders is two full years behind top-performing countries. That’s a prescription for economic decline. And I refuse to accept that America’s children cannot rise to this challenge. They can, and they must, and they will meet higher standards in our time.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, in an address the same month to the Council of Great City Schools, pushed for more rigorous standards. “In far too many places, including my state of Illinois, we have been lying to children,” he said. “The idea of 50 states doing their own thing just doesn’t make sense. We have to raise the bar.”

Our new leaders are not the first to endorse more challenging standards, even national or common standards. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton both called for national standards and tests, and both failed. Could the third try be a charm?

Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.