We have talked on these pages about the push for so-called “common-core standards.” This is basically an attempt to establish universal standards for English and math so that, from state to state, school systems would be in agreement about what students should be learning depending on which grade they are in.
There is a great deal of legitimate debate about whether adopting such standards is a good idea, but one state, Texas, has taken the debate a step further by actually adopting legislation to forbid “common core standards.” Read more here.
This may not be too surprising. According to the Education Week blog post, Texas has been one of the few holdouts thus far when it comes to participating in any way with these universal standards.
You can read the text of the legislation here, but the gist of it is that Texas is making sure that its school systems cannot follow along with the rest of the states when it comes to adopting common standards of learning.
Politicians have taken the decision out of the hands of educators, which is a somewhat dangerous precedent to set. Of course, with President Obama being up front on issues related to education and “common core standards,” it is difficult to say that education should remain non-political. But it is one thing for a politician to push for new ideas and structure in education, and it is something else all together to forbid others from participating freely.
Regardless, education has become politicized, whether you are Democrat or Republican. Everybody says they’re thinking of the children, and everybody thinks they have the best ideas when it comes to reforming education. But rhetoric and proof are two different things. Perhaps with Texas holding out, the state can become a control to test whether “common core standards” are actually useful.
If researchers can compare the performance of students in states that adopt the standards against the performance of Texas school systems, then perhaps there will actually be some data about their effectiveness.
Until then, the debate will continue.