Missouri is one of four holdouts from the coalition to draft national education standards.
I’m glad Missouri hasn’t signed on. Beware of states bearing standards. No state by itself has particularly good standards, so the chances are slim that all of them together will come up with something better. And bad standards could serve to solidify the near-monopolistic state of the education market. After standards are adopted, textbook companies that go along with them are rewarded and competing curricula are crowded out.
I fear my rejoicing may be short-lived, though, because when Arne Duncan includes the standards in his “Race to the Tax Dollars” — I mean, “Race to the Top” — scheme, Missouri will have little choice but to go along.
There is one reason for optimism: Standards on paper don’t necessarily affect what happens in a classroom. Within a single state, some districts teach beyond the standards, and others lag far behind. That pattern will continue to hold if standards are adopted at the national level.
For more on national standards, and to learn why they’re like unicorns, see Neal McCluskey’s post at [email protected]