Wednesday, February 18, 2009

National Standards

With hope and change all the rage these days and calls for nationalizing banks and healthcare, I fully expect the call for national standards in education to intensify in the coming days. Homeschoolers should be leading the charge against them.

Here's American Federation of Teachers President, Randi Weingarten making the case in the editorial pages of this week's Washington Post.
Education is a local issue, but there is a body of knowledge about what children should know and be able to do that should guide decisions about curriculum and testing. I propose that a broad-based group -- made up of educators, elected officials, community leaders, and experts in pedagogy and particular content -- come together to take the best academic standards and make them available as a national model....

I'm not so naive as to think that it would be easy to reach consensus on national standards, but I believe that most people would agree that there is academic content that all students in America's public schools should be taught, and be taught to high standards. And I would expect near-consensus on the fact that, today, we are failing in that important mission. A national agreement about certain aspects of what every well-educated child in every American public school should learn won't be easy to arrive at, but that is no reason to give up before we even try.
Mr. Weingarten acknowledges that education is a local issue and he expresses his desire to involve a broad based group to develop a national model, but did you notice who he left out of this "broad based" group?


As parents, we are charged with the responsibility of educating our children according to our own standard and definition of a well-educated child. That's the essence of a free society and a free people. However if national standards are adopted, our individual definition of "well-educated" will become subordinate to the consensus definition and will eventually require some proof of compliance. Failure to conform to the national standard would likely result in lack of consideration for college or employment opportunities or worse, charges of educational neglect simply because our definition does not match theirs.

The rule of debate is - he who defines wins. I am NOT willing to yield the definition of a well-educated" child to the state or a self-appointed group of experts in pedagogy. National standards are nothing more than social engineering with the goal of transforming our children into a commodity to meet the demands of the state, not the dreams of the child.

If the "experts" who desire national standards had their way, the Preamble to the Constitution would probably read something like this,
"We the state, in order to form a more perfect worker, establish national standards to insure domestic conformity, provide for common tests, promote general dependency, and secure the tyranny of stupidity for its citizens, do ordain and establish public schools for the people of the United States of America. "
No thanks.

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