Looking for standards in all the wrong places

Know that queasy feeling you get just before you throw up?

I’m almost there with all these politicians harping about the need for national standards.

Does anybody besides me remember when all the educators in the academic subject area organizations (National Council of Teachers of Math, National Council of Teachers of English, etc.) worked long and hard to develop—let’s see, what were those called, oh yeah—national standards? NCTM launched the standards movement in 1980 by becoming the first of the subject area organizations to craft national standards (updated in 2000). The English/reading ones have been around since 1996 (adopted in 1998). Similar documents were produced by our colleagues in social studies, science, technology, music, and the other subjects.

Anybody really remember what happened to them?

There are variations on the story in different places (I’d love to hear some of yours), but generally when faced with truly rigorous, high-order academic standards, many Americans (including some educators, but most notably the USDOE) reacted with a knee-jerk “back to basics” defense of the status quo.

I would love to see us get back to the business of a serious attempt at academically rigorous standards in each subject, but I’m mighty suspicious that may not be what the politicians have in mind. Especially when those of us who have demonstrated that we know our subjects, know our students, and know how to teach those subjects to our particular students are not being included in all these noisy, high-profile discussions (yeah, that was a riff on National Board Core Propositions).

What do you think? Do we really (finally) have the stomach for national standards?

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