The Need for Federal Government Involvement in Education Reform

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The Need for Federal Government Involvement in Education Reform

by____________
Political Science 2301
Federal and State Government

OVERVIEW

For centuries, generations of families have congregated in the same community or in the same general region of the country. Children grew up expecting to earn a living much like their fathers and mothers or other adults in their community. Any advanced skills they required beyond the three R's (Readin', Ritin' and Rithmatik) were determined by the local community and incorporated into the curriculum of the local schools. These advanced skills were taught to the up- and-coming generation so they could become a vital part of their community. The last several decades has greatly expanded the bounds of the "community" to almost anywhere in the country or anywhere in the world for that matter. Advances in transportation and communication has made the world a much smaller place then the world we knew as children. The skills our children need to realize parents' perpetual dream of "their children having a better life" are no longer limited to those seen in the local area. It is becoming more and more apparent that the education system of yesterday cannot adequately prepare students for life and work in the 21st Century. These concerns have prompted people across the country to take a hard look at our education system and to organize their efforts to chance the education system as we know it.

WHAT'S HAPPENING OUT THERE?

There are two major movements in recent years whose focus is to enhance the education of future generations. The "Standards" movement focuses on educational content and raising the standards of traditional teaching and measurement means and methods. The "Outcome Based Education" (OBE) movement is exploring new ways of designing education and changing the way we measure the effectiveness of education by focusing on results or outcomes.

STANDARDS MOVEMENT

In September 1989, President Bush and the nation's governors called an Education Summit in Charlottesville, Virginia. At this summit, President Bush and the nation s governors, including then-governor Bill Clinton, agreed on six broad goals for education to be reached by the year 2000. Two of those goals (3 and 4) related specifically to academic achievement:

* Goal 3: By the year 2000, American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, history, and geography; and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy.

* Goal 4: By the year 2000, U.S. students will be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement.

Soon after the summit, two groups were established to implement the new educational goals: the National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) and the National Council on Education Standards and Testing (NCEST). Together, these two groups were charged with addressing unprecedented questions regarding American education such as: What is the subject matter to be addressed? What types of assessments should be used? What standards of performance should be set?

The summit and its aftermath engendered a flurry of activity from national subject matter organizations to establish standards in their respective areas. Many of these groups looked for guidance from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics who publishing the Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics in 1989. The NCTM standards "redefined the study of math so that topics and concepts would be introduced at an earlier age, and students would view math as a relevant problem-solving discipline rather than as a set of obscure formulas to be memorized." The National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the...
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