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Establish National Standards for Schools

The usual explanation for why national standards won’t fly politically in the United States is because the right hates “national” and the left hates “standards.” But that’s changing.

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The usual explanation for why national standards won’t fly politically in the United States is because the right hates “national” and the left hates “standards.” But that’s changing. Leading figures in both parties now say that in today’s “flat” world we can’t have the rigor of a child’s education, and thus chances for success, depend on the accident of where they happen to be born. Polls show a majority of Americans agree. An August 2007 survey done for Strong American Schools, an education campaign funded by the Gates and Broad Foundations, found that 63 percent of Americans think there should be “national academic expectations and standards for students in all states,” as opposed to 35 percent who believe “each state should be responsible for setting its own.”

Most proponents suggest we establish national standards and tests in grades three through 12 in core subjects—reading, math, and science, for starters—perhaps leaving more controversial subjects, such as history, until we get our feet wet with a new regime.

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