Jay Mathews Gets It Right on National Standards

Jay Mathews may not have gotten it right in his bet with Greg over how many school choice programs would be adopted during the most recent round of state legislative sessions, but he is completely on target with his take on the bleak political future of the national standards movement.  I’d say that he is Right On!

Here’s the money quote:

[A system of national standards, curriculum,  and assessments]  sounds great. But it won’t help and won’t work. Such specific standards stifle creativity and conflict with a two-century American preference for local decision-making about schools….

No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top grants are likely to be the high water mark of federal involvement in schools. Washington officials will dump all kinds of education programs so that they don’t have to cut too deeply into monthly allotments to regular voting geezers like me.

We already have all the national standards we need from decades of states borrowing one another’s ideas. The colleges generally agree how much math, English, history and science our students need. Employers are pushing for special requirements for students who want to work after high school. Those local business executives will know better than any national panel what the students in their communities need to learn in the way of teamwork, critical thinking, presentation skills and time management.

And Jay Mathews favorably discusses one of my blog posts on this topic, so obviously he is right. : )

3 Responses to Jay Mathews Gets It Right on National Standards

  1. […] Jay Mathews Gets It Right on National Standards Jay P. Greene’s Blog   September 6th, 2011 Share this: This entry was posted in Common Core State Standards, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Race to the Top. Bookmark the permalink. ← Tax Dollars Fuel Unlawful Nationalized Curriculum, Parent-Bypass […]

  2. Niki Hayes says:

    It is great that Jay Mathews is willing to speak the truth about federal intrusion into public education.

    Now if I could just get him to discuss a biography, John Saxon’s Story, a genius in common sense, he might help shed light on the awful, dysfunctional world of math education. Yes, it’s my self-published book as a retired math teacher and principal, but Jay, himself, had planned in the 1990’s to write about John Saxon’s blistering war with the math education’s leadership.

    John fought for traditional instruction. The national and statewide leadership circle implemented reform, feel-good mathematics instead, aimed to bring about equity for girls and minorities (except Asians, who they said learned like “white males”). John became a multimillionaire due to small school districts, private schools, and then charter schools buying his textbooks, but the leadership started out with federal power and money behind them (National Science Foundation with $84 million in grants). The leadership built up that power to gain prestige and profits for curricula that were unproven and disastrous for American kids.

    Jay keeps saying he needs a hook to promote John’s book. I keep saying the focus on federally-driven standards with no conversation on the weak and incoherent curriculum is the hook, and that John Saxon was the first math warrior who brought this math weakness and incoherency into sunlight. The fact that his company was bought by an arch rival in 2004, eight years after his death, and the sales reps are told not to “mention” John Saxon by name, and a representative refused to read a chapter from the biography’s manuscript show me they still hate him–while loving the profits his successful company of traditional math brings them.

    We’re once again seeing a powerful drive by the same “establishment” get what they want with little regard or insight for the real or unintended consequences to children. The goal is more power, more money for grants, and more “consultancies” for professional development gigs as kids continue to struggle in mathematics education.

    Goliaths control the education complex. I keep wondering if we can ever get enough Davids to take them on. Jay Mathews is one voice that could help influence people to learn about John Saxon, a West Point graduate and math teacher who said, “Results, not methodology, should be the basis of curriculum decisions. Results matter.”

    • Ayn Marie Samuelson says:

      After co-authoring, “Exposing the Public Education System”, I agree with your assessment of the political-bureaucratic education system that seeks to keep the status quo of maintaining and growing the system, much to the detriment of students, competent teachers and families. The existing system has failed to properly educate students, while spending vast sums of taxpayers dollars and excluding parents and communities from genuine input into decision-making.

      You specifically focus on John Saxon’s success as a competent and caring educator. His books still can be found in our home.

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