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EDUCATION REPORT - Should All Students in US Learn the Same Things?

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Third grade students do school work during class at Hanby Elementary School in Mesquite, Texas.
Third grade students do school work during class at Hanby Elementary School in Mesquite, Texas.

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

RICHARD REILLY:  "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. Reilly 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 www.unsv.com. I'm Christopher Cruise.

编辑推荐阅读Common Core Standards
网友的学习评论(14条):
作者:hoyee
technology can make it easier to develop individual learing plans to meet the different needs of students with the national standarads
作者:Annie
Yes, teacher quality is more important than anything else, but common curriculum, we should worry less about ,still needs to put in the first place.
作者:lvjiaying1984
Although probably it is a good way for all the students in the America to have the same curriculum, sharing the same learning materials, having the same qualified teachers, the same thing is not probably happen in China. Because China is a large country the the condition differs from place to place. We have to make up different educational curricula to adopt to the different demands from different areas of china. In the Eastern part of the country where economy is developing relatively fast,
作者:lvjiaying1984
Although probably it is a good way for all the students in the America to have the same curriculum, sharing the same learning materials, having the same qualified teachers, the same thing does not probably happen in China. Because China is a large country where the condition differs from place to place. We have to make up different educational curricula to adopt to the different demands from different areas of china. In the Eastern part of the country where economy is developing relatively fast,
作者:lvjiaying1984
the governmentcan spends a lot more money than that in the Western part of the country. So the books in this part can be made beautiful which cost a lot of money. But to the Western part of China, where the economy is developing relatively slowly, the first factor contributing to the success of the teaching books is to cost less because people in this part of China don't have enough money to pay for the daily expense, let alone a lot of books costing a lot. And as for teachers,
作者:lvjiaying1984
because in the Western part of the country,where teachers will be paid less and suffer from the poor conditions in that area,few of the graduates graduating from college like to go to these areas which means there are not plentiful competent teachers teaching in these areas. The true reason that concerns is that China's Western part is suffering from poor weather conditions and poor traffic that means the economy of the Western part cannot proceed quickly.
作者:吕文坤
what you said is right,but i think with the development of internet, the problems of education exist in Eastern and Western part of China will be charged.For example,if without internet i have not see your comment,and not log on "WWW.UNSV.COM"to learn english.
作者:66
The present education situation of china is in need of some reformation, but it's can't been done by you nor I. Sometimes I really wondered that what are the education experts doing? Why can't they see it ,and why can't they do something about it?
作者:happyfish
As a teacher i think that school should improve teacher quality.
作者:Iven
In fact,there are many measures be taken to change the present situation of our national education.But the sternest probiem is that the development of Eastern and western is disequilibrium.We don't have a unified standard.
作者:elenaxufeng
compared to China's education system, that foreign country have done the better. For instance, the college entrance examination ,it makes most of us stiflied, as we had went through the most painful
作者:joe mathers
every students has his own situation ,every students has advantages and disadvantages,so let themselves what they should learn right now and what they should learn in the future.
作者:xuanfeng
Every students have the rights to attend school ,so it is important for us to impove the quality of education.
作者:snowwolfljb
we also have subjects which was teached from primary school to college, that is so called "politics and philosophy", it is much more boring and meaningless
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