Education - Solution 1 - Setting Curriculum Standards at the National Level - An Overview. [24]

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Setting the Cirriculum Standards

EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS:This is probably the simplest of the reforms that actually could be instituted and it is based on the fact that educating our young is a National Security concern.

Right now there are at least 51 jurisdictions, the national government and each state, that set educational standards as to what needs to be taught. For the most part, the national government takes a back seat to the 50 state governments. In addition, there are probably hundreds if not thousands more jurisdictions that have a say, sometimes final say, on what is taught to our children when you consider elected school boards, religious institutions, and home schooling. How can you have a coherent, quality, robust educational system that meets national security needs with such a fractured educational standards mish-mash?

Therefore, this would be the first thing I would change. I would reverse the roles of the states and the federal government. In my view, it is the federal government, not individual state and local jurisdictions, which should set the minimum, mandatoryeducational cirriculum standards that ALL schools must meet. By all schools, I include home schools as well as the secular portion of religious-based schools.

The federal Department of Education would be charged with developing alternative sets of curricula, in consultation with all state Department of Educations, that will produce a well-rounded, educated student who is prepared to enter the world even if he or she does not go on to college or vocational school. I say alternative curricula because while we are changing the world here, we might as well go whole hog.

It might come as a surprise to many educators, especially those who lean more to the fundamentalist or conservative bent, that people learn different ways. (That is probably not a fair statement but if you look around you, it seems that differences are pretty well ignored in our school system.) Not everybody can learn arithmetic beyond the most basic skills. Its not that they are dumb, they are just not wired that way. It is like making a right-handed person write left-handed. The same applies to science and English and art; some people get it and some people don't. For example, I tried for years to learn how to play the piano. I practiced for hours on end. I even took three quarters of piano in college only to choke on the final. I still can't play a lick even though I really wanted to play and had more motivation than I knew what to do with.

Further, some children have particular learning disabilities that need alternative teaching methods. My 7-year old grandson has a wiring problem that interfers with his ability to integrate the letters/word he sees and sound he needs to make to say it. Phonetics are almost useless to him. We had to take him to a specialist to officially diagnose the problem as the school wanted to hold this "problem child" back from matriculating to 1st grade! Can you believe, he was going to flunk kindergarten because he couldn't sound out words!! (Of course I still haven't gotten over the fact that they are even trying to teach him how to read in Kindergarten! I think they start basic Calculus in third grade now, don't they?) Finally we got him in a "special" reading class that teaches in a different way. Oh, by the way, his IQ tested somewhere between 125 and 135; go figure. (I do need to point out that his school did have classes designed to teach kids with his and other reading problems. What they didn't have was a systematic method of finding out he had the problem in the first place. They would have rather had him flunk Kindergartin than investigate.)

What this screams for, of course, is a recognition of these facts and some proactive action to develop tests that can differentiate between learning styles and then develop curricula that takes advantage of this knowledge to maximize learning down each track. In fact, some school districts actually do this. My point is, for the health of the Nation, ALL school districts ought to do this because if they are not, America is making a conscience decision NOT to provide, and therefore benefit from, the best education possible.

This is why, in my view, these changes must be done at the national level. It is only at this level where the minimum standards can be set. Any argument about States Rights is going to fall on deaf ears because this is a National Security matter and that trumps any States Rights argument if you want to consider yourself a rational being. There is no question that if there is one thing people on the Left and people on the Right agree on is that the U.S. Constitution puts "Providing for the National Defense" squarely at the feet of the federal government. I will be interested in the comments that seek to argue that education of America's young isn't directly and/or closely tied to our National Defense.

What about the States? Surprisingly, nothing really changes for the states other than they no longer get to set the minimum educational standards. No longer will we have poorly educated students coming out of public schools in the Deep South while much better educated students come out of Sacramento. They all have to be taught to the same minimum standard. On the other hand, there is nothing stopping a state from raising the bar and requiring higher standards. What I am concerned with is that we produce young men and women educated enough to meet national security needs.

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Comments 6 comments

Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

You are right in that there should be a uniform standard of teaching all across. All kids should have the same opportunity and it would keep things simple. Easier to oversee I suppose too.

My last blog was on the lack of a public school in a northern community in Ontario, Canada. The kids there have portables for the past decade and before that they attended classes at a public school which had the grounds infected by a diesel spill.

The federal government blames the provincial government and vice-versa. Meanwhile, the problem of education just goes around in circles and nothing gets solved.

Good blog. Cheers!


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thank you Mr. Happy, it is anecdotes like yours that really make my blood boil. It doesn't matter that the school is in Canada or America ... the nation and its children are getting shortchaned and in your illustration the children are endangered. I believed President Obama highlighted a similar sounding case in South Carolina not too long ago.


HSchneider 5 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

I agree with you that we could use a more uniform curriculum base around the country but I don't think there is a sliver of a chance that it will happen. Local school districts and states defend this turf zealously and I believe the Supreme Court would back them on it. The only way to even have a chance to implement this would be to withhold educational aid from them. I feel the best way the U.S. government can influence this is to publish scores for children in all districts and to publish their curricula. The President and the Secretary of Education can also use their bully pulpit. I am very glad to hear of that program to help your grandson. That's great for him. My girlfriend's son has ADHD and they have extra assistance for him which has aided him immensely. He's now in 5th grade and has had this help since 1st grade. He is now keeping a consistent B average. Children all learn differently as you said. Teachers and administrators must recognize this to maximize the potential of each student. This is why we need smaller classes which will aid teachers.


Urban Camper profile image

Urban Camper 5 years ago from Naked City, Las Vegas NV

"In my view, it is the federal government, not individual state and local jurisdictions, which should set the minimum, mandatory educational curriculum standards that ALL schools must meet."

I believe this is putting the horse before the cart. First and foremost the government should set a minimum educational level for all educators. If your grandchild's educators were more intelligent then just factory floor foremen, pushing kids through on the conveyor belt, then maybe they would have been able to recognize and help rectify the situation.

Solution: All students take finals at the end of the year, to demonstrate what levels of comprehension they achieved in particular subjects.

During the Summer break why are teachers not tested on the Subjects they are going to be teaching the upcoming year. Which they must pass at a very high standard (minimum of B+ or greater). A teacher who can only achieve a "C" in the class they are going to teach, will only provide us with "C" students at best. It is these teachers that teach their students from the answer keys rather then pushing them to grasp the "hows and whys".

The problem is we have some "stupid" educators, producing "stupid" students. These "stupid" students later in life become our future educators. All the meanwhile we allow Unions to ensure that they keep their jobs and get annual raises.


OpinionDuck profile image

OpinionDuck 5 years ago

My opinion is that the purpose of education is to get the best job that you can when you leave school.

School and business are too entirely different kinds of environments. To improve the education system there needs to be more input from the business world as to what they expect from a high school graduate.

I also don't believe that business really needs colleg graduates for many of their jobs. Getting a college degree has less standards than a high school degree.

What do college graduates really know about business, and when I say business I mean places where you get jobs.

Even technical degrees are many years behind industry and each company will train new graduates as well as retrain people coming from different companies.

So the answers that you ask have to come from outside of the academic world.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 5 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

I must say, Opinion Duck, college must have really gone down hill since I got my degrees in 1971, 1983, and 1991 (OK, so I like school). I found them all challenging and certainly with higher standards than high school which, in 1965 had standards that were head and shoulders above what they are today.

I don't think colleges and businesses are supposed to have the same purpose. Businesses are to make money for their owners and colleges are to turn out people with an education. In the case of the 4-year college, its purpose is to turn out a young adult with a well-rounded education not only in the major of his or her choice but in humanities, history, liberal arts, science, English, Math, and civics.

I think that needs to be the goal of our high schools again. The fact that it isn't any more is why America is dumbing down so much.

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