Sarah to Arne: Let Parents Choose
I’ve received a request to blog about a Chicago Tribune article, “Arne to Illinois: Shape Up,” specifically this quote from Arne Duncan:
“In too many places, including Illinois, we are lying to children now. [When] we tell a child they are meeting the state standards, the logical implication is that child’s on track to be successful. In too many places, including Illinois, if you are meeting state standards you are barely qualified to graduate from high school and you are totally unqualified to go to a university and graduate,” he said.
I agree that the standards are low and don’t reflect what students need to know for college or life. Many parents are happy when their children do fine on state tests, not realizing that in a few years, their children will be competing with people from China, Singapore, Sweden, and other countries with more rigorous school systems. Another drawback is that school use the low standards as an excuse, saying they can’t teach anything more advanced because they have to prepare students for the (easy) state tests.
I disagree with Duncan’s proposed solution. He wants the federal government to tell the states what to do — imposing his favorite ideas, like a longer school year, with threats like this:
“Illinois has a chance to compete for hundreds of millions of dollars. I would love to see Illinois compete,” Duncan said. “But Illinois has to change its behavior.”
Rather than bringing in the federal government to pick winners, mediocre public schools should get out of the way and let parents act as consumers. Parents with the opportunity have been choosing schools with longer school years, like KIPP schools, long before Duncan decided to impose that reform from above.
You can read my thoughts on Duncan’s charter school remarks here.
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