Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 11, 2009


Christian Science Monitor - Education Secretary Arne Duncan threw his weight behind a "common" education standard for all of America's schoolchildren, saying the current state-by-state system has produced uneven results in which some students "are totally, inadequately prepared to go into a competitive university, let alone graduate.". . .

The secretary acknowledged, though, that what he calls "common higher standards, internationally benchmarked" would face hurdles and involve political pain. States and local governments are protective of their prerogative to set educational standards, and what Duncan is suggesting would be a huge break with tradition.

"Politicians don't like to go out and say, 'We are really struggling,' or 'Our kids are behind,' or 'Our kids are at a competitive disadvantage,' " Duncan said.

A better alternative to the state-by-state approach, he says, is to "get away from each state doing its own thing. Let's do one thing, and let's hold ourselves accountable." But raising the bar, he acknowledged, means "test scores are going to drop in some places precipitously. And what we have to do is we have to give those politicians cover for doing the right thing. So there is a real tricky balance that we have to work on here.". . .

Tracking outcomes is a key theme for the secretary, who argues for "comprehensive data systems" that let states track both teacher and student performance - and relationships between the two.

"I want to be able to track every child throughout their educational trajectory, so we know what they are doing. Secondly, I want to track children back to teachers, so we know the impact the teachers are having on those children. And third, I want to be able to track those students back to teacher, and teachers back to the schools of education, so we can understand which schools of education and which feeder programs are producing the teachers that are producing the students that had the most gain.". . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't you measure a teacher's impact on a student by the bruises? That's how we did it back when I was a student in Catholic school.

June 11, 2009 12:58 PM  
Blogger Lars said...

Is the point of our educational system to produce reams of data that can be tabulated and sorted in an Excel spreadsheet or is it to produce thoughtful citizens? I think I know where Obama stands on the issue now. Thanks Arne.

June 11, 2009 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where in the Constitution does it say the feds can usurp every facet of state and local gov't? Seems to me it says the opposite. I for one am sick of rule executive fiat. See:

June 11, 2009 3:55 PM  
Anonymous bad typist said...

rule by executive fiat

June 11, 2009 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now executive Chrysler, too.

June 12, 2009 2:23 AM  
Anonymous m said...

We know what happened the last time the Federal government decided to set standards via the Bush "No child left behind" program. What reason is there to think that the next Federal program for education will be any different?

June 12, 2009 11:03 AM  

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