Yes, It Really Is Nationalization

Tight/Loose Management in Action

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

As Jay predicted, the nationalizers want you to believe that what they’re asking for won’t actually, really, truly transfer all that much control to the central command bunker in DC.

Let’s climb into the Wayback Machine for a second. Poking around some old posts on this topic, I found this.

Checker argued:

Remember, it’s liberals who believe that people should be held to different standards.

To which I responded:

Right. Because if Johnny learns long division in fourth grade and Suzy learns it in third grade, that’s the moral equivalent of a racial quota.

A commenter objected:

Is that a fair characterization of this debate? Deciding whether long division is presented to kids in 3rd or 4th grade?

I thought the national standards seem to be a way to ultimate get a national test. And that’s what Checker seems to be signing onto. Because in some states, Johnny can NEVER learn long division and still get a high school in diploma.

Seems like Checker is fighting against states setting low cut marks on tests, thereby deceiving Johnny and fooling his parents into trusting the schools that all is okay.

I responded:

On this “national test” you pine for, will long division be on the third grade test? Yes or no? If yes, Johnny will have to learn it before he’s ready. If no, Suzy will waste a year of math classes waiting for Johnny to catch up. Or do you plan to custom-build a test for each student?

This way of framing the argument, of course, brings me to Neal’s point that the national standards debate and the school choice debate are interconnected. I hope to write a longer response to Neal on that soon. For now, let me just observe the following:

  1. Events have now confirmed that Checker was, indeed, signing on for a national test to be taken by all students. Or if you want you can call it a national choice between two tests, both created behind closed doors by agents of the national government – huge difference!
  2. If we have a national test for all students, or a national choice between two tests both of which were created by the national government, that testing regime will obviously drive what gets taught and how.

Sorry, nationalizers, but…

7 Responses to Yes, It Really Is Nationalization

  1. Daniel Earley says:

    I believe I may have stumbled across an early draft of the ESEA Briefing Book, before the window dressing and final authors were added. This screenshot of the cover may explain a few things.

  2. Patrick says:

    All your base are belong to us!

  3. Patrick says:

    For the not cool kids – know your meme

  4. GGW says:

    Hi there. Love this blog. Provocative and thoughtful.

    I was the commenter you cited. I’m still unclear: the situation you describe is already the case. States have standards. They have tests. All the failures you ascribe to national standards are true of state standards, right — just in 50 different varieties?

    Currently, without national standards, in every state with standards, Johnny is sometimes taught division “before he’s ready” — i.e., he’s a typical Boston kid who cannot yet add, so division will be hard.

    Meanwhile, Suzy has not only mastered division, but fractions, too. So a class which helps Johnny is too slow for her.

    All those state standards are indeed set “behind closed doors by agents of 50 different state governments.”

    If you support the state standards, then I don’t get why you don’t narrow the question to the costs and benefits of 50 versions (current) versus 1?

    But if you’re advocating that we get rid of all the state standards, then I understand your position.

  5. Greg Forster says:

    Thanks, GGW. That is a good point. That’s exactly what I was getting at when I pointed out that this way of framing the issue really takes us back to Neal’s point (in the post I linked to above) about how this debate intersects with the school choice debate. Neal is right that ultimately what we need is universal parental choice to ensure that every child gets what that child needs. If we had that, state standards would not be a big deal because if they didn’t serve you well, you could opt out. However, I’m not willing to go with Neal all the way to saying that the school choice debate can’t be held off while we discuss whether state standards should be replaced with national standards. As I said above, I hope to write more about this whole issue soon.

  6. […] The charge of federal overreach here could indict the entire process. The goblins of federal takeover, largely dormant over the last two years, are awakening. In this view, everything since 2009 may have been a clever ruse for the nationalization of the curriculum and a boon for standards and assessments industries hungry for continued federal dollars — and direction. The charge is not just against a national curriculum, but the very core of the Core. These accusations are already erupting on a daily basis. See blog-slinging here and here. […]

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