Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Support Of Nationwide Curriculum

According to the July 21st, 2010 edition of the New York Times Online, "Less than two months after the nation’s governors and state school chiefs released their final recommendations for national education standards, 27 states have adopted them and about a dozen more are expected to do so in the next two weeks. Their support has surprised many in education circles, given states’ long tradition of insisting on retaining local control over curriculum."

If you were to count Obama's effective contributions to America thus far, you'd probably have a short list. However, Obama's plan on education is his greatest contribution yet and beats his other plans, such as health care, by a longshot. I'm in complete support for a nationwide school standard for education and the doing away with of local control over curriculum. I'm curious though, whether states are jumping the gun and adopting this plan without thinking things through because according to the plan's gimmick, states that adopt the standards by Aug. 2 win points in the competition for a share of the $3.4 billion to be awarded in September. As a result of school systems suffering in the economy, this leads me to believe a lot of these states adopted this plan so quickly just for the money. In addition, once schools adopt this plan, I can imagine it'll take some effort and money to put the plan into use. For example, schools will have to buy new supplies and textbooks and that could cause some inconvenience for those schools already suffering financially.

Even still, one's education is one of the most important aspects of any individual in everyday conversation and in order to get anywhere in life and having all children on equal levels means that there is no excuse for any child of any state to get left behind. National standards are seen as a way to ensure that children in all states will have access to a similar education because it is clear that some children and teenagers are smarter than children and teenagers in other states. The plan's layout detailed expectations of skills that students should have at each grade level. This means teachers will need to rethink their teaching and testing methods as a whole. Every student should learn the fundamental building blocks of education (reading, writing, and arithmetic) and have similar testing methods. Tests are a good source used to acknowledge one’s ability to interpret and communicate his ideas in a way which shows his teacher or foundation administering the exam that he has learned as much as he could master. The ability to process material and display what he has learned shows he can think on a level which a certain university requires. If all children learn material equally, then theoretically the playing field when applying for college should be even enough where factors such as discrimination, poverty, or poor backgrounds should not be an issue.

The downside to a national curriculum is that this means there is no room for flexibility in learning. This means schools can be thought of as factories producing robots and this may not make learning as fun for kids and high school students, whose attention spans are already difficult enough to acquire a hold of. Also, if the government takes control of the country's learning criteria....that sounds a lot like "gasp" communism, wouldn't you think? I don't have such a big gripe with communism because I understand the original concepts of communism were supposed to be good things, but I know when uneducated people hear the word "communism" these days, immediately they panic and shake their head as if the end of America is coming.

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