August 14, 2009 12:20PM

The Case Against National Standards

President Obama, ed. secretary Duncan, and the nation’s governors and schools superintendents are almost unanimous in supporting uniform grade‐​by‐​grade national standards. In a recent letter to the editor of Education Week (HT: Bill Evers), a literature prof. criticizes this process on the grounds that no lit professors or high school language‐​arts teachers were included in the relevant standards‐​drafting panel.

As I write in today’s NY Daily News, that objection is small potatoes compared to a much more fundamental problem: all 12‐​year‐​olds do not learn every subject at the same pace. If you tie standards to school grades, you tie them to chronological age. But kids of the same age are all over the map when it comes to how fast they can progress through various subjects. One‐​size‐​fits‐​few.

I offer a better solution for improving American education in my NYDN piece. And as for the lit. professor’s objection, she writes:

we see a problem in the failure to include (as far as we can determine) not even one faculty member of a college literature or humanities department or high school English teacher on the English‐​language‐​arts standards‐​writing committee itself.

“The failure to include not even one.…” Ouch. Now you know why I didn’t hotlink that letter.