Should All US Students Learn the Same Thing?

Posted by admin on July 2nd, 2011 at 07:52pm

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This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

More than forty of the fifty American states have approved what are known as the common core state standards. These are lists of content that students are supposed to learn at each grade level from kindergarten to high school.

State governors and schools chiefs led the effort to develop the standards. The project involved teachers, administrators, experts and public comments. The final standards were released last June.

Acceptance is voluntary. But acceptance helped states that entered President Obama’s four-billion-dollar “Race to the Top” competition for school reform.

The standards are for English language arts and math. More subjects may come later.

Supporters say the standards provide clear goals to prepare students to succeed in college and in jobs. But critics of national standards say the idea goes against one of America’s oldest traditions — local control of education.

Political conservatives generally oppose federal intervention in schools. Yet it was a Republican president, George W. Bush, who expanded testing requirements to show that public schools are making yearly progress.

Still, opponents of national standards call them “one-size-fits-all.” They say the idea does not make sense for a country as large and diverse as the United States.

One of those opponents is Bill Evers at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. He was an assistant education secretary under President Bush.

BILL EVERS: “We are having Washington, DC, having control and final say over, and supervision over and direction over, what is happening in the classrooms of America. Most changes, most positive influences have bubbled up from below.

“So it’s closing the door on innovation by locking in a national, uniform bureaucratic system. But the states don’t have a problem in setting their curriculum — they’ve been doing it ever since there’ve been public schools.”

Richard Riley was education secretary to President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. Mr. Riley says the federal government is not forcing the common core standards on states.

RICHARD RILEY: “Conservatives would be concerned if we had federal-mandated common core standards. That’s not what we have. It’s a state-driven measure. High standards, challenging work for young people across the country. To be challenged to do and be the same, and not one way in Texas and another way in South Carolina.”

Mr. Riley says when he served in the nineteen nineties, he pushed states to develop their own statewide standards. But some of those standards were not very strong, he says, so he believes national standards are needed.

But Bill Evers says technology now makes it easier to develop individual learning plans to meet the different needs of students.

BILL EVERS: “If we put a bureaucratic hand on this, we will stifle the capacity for modern technology to give us a better shot at the students learning the material.”

He says schools should worry less about a common curriculum and more about improving teacher quality.

And that’s the VOA Special English Education Report. We’ll have more about this debate next week. You can find a link to the common core standards at voaspecialenglish.com. I’m Christopher Cruise.

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Under Education report

12 Comments

  • 1. Pham Van Bon  |  July 4th, 2011 at 9:59 am

    My listening english capacity is not god. Cuold you tell me how to improve it?
    Thanks alot!

  • 2. NHokm0il0n  |  July 4th, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    @Pham Van Bon:
    I think you should be careful when you write, so you will learn many words and can improve your English skills.
    “such as: god=> good; cuold=>could

  • 3. xuka  |  July 5th, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Giving the standards for student can provide goals clearly. But I think that schools should have real lessons to prepare students to succeed in jobs.

  • 4. xuka  |  July 5th, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Hi Bon!
    At first, my English listening skill is very bad. I almost can not listen to everything but now I make much progress in listening. I think you should listen to easy lessons and lisen to it every time you can. Example you can listen to while taking a bus, cooking and exercising… Everyday you listen to each lesson for at least 2 to 3 hours. I am sure that your listening will progress. Plus expanding vocabulary is also the best way to enhance English skill.
    Good luck! Bye bye.

  • 5. Pham Van Bon  |  July 5th, 2011 at 10:01 am

    rat cam on cac ban, toi se co gang lam theo cac ban noi.

  • 6. Hy  |  July 5th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    A common core Standard for education in all States of America is needed,because the United States is a large and diverse country.The students have to get the same grade level from kindergarten to high school,it is more better than their levels are different from State to State.

  • 7. ivy  |  July 5th, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    hi xuka.
    i have known all what you say but that’s very difficult for me. i can’t improve my skill English bye your method. Do you know why i say so ? because i pratice alike what you say but i can’t listen good and know many vocabulary. i learnt it but i forgot again. haizzzzzzzz, oh! my god. hehe

  • 8. ivy  |  July 5th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    i think American is a big country and have develop economic on over the word. so their education is better than our education. we should discuss about education of our country. i feel our government need to give better reform to improve education in the country. by delete all bureaucratics level from kindergarten to hight school who oppose develope of country. so our education will develop in the near future.

  • 9. xuka  |  July 8th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Listening is the most hardest skill that causes English learner very scary. Experts advise that learners should only listen to lessons at least 6 to 12 months before learning English. Be patient and relax.

  • 10. hongvu  |  July 9th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    personaly, i think you should improve your vocabulary at first,then practice listening englishfromeasy levels to difficult ones.

  • 11. hongvu  |  July 9th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    I think you should improve your vocabulary at first,then practice listening englishfromeasy levels to difficult ones.

  • 12. nhankachiu  |  July 18th, 2011 at 7:45 am

    in my own view, educationists should treasure the idea of common core state standards. that’s because these standards give students all around US the same necessary objectives to achieve. it will be much easier for those who suffering moving homes often from state to state. also, it facilitates to evaluate the ability of students systematically


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