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National education standards not a federal takeover of public schools

A big concern about proposed national education standards for grades K-12 is that they amount to a federal takeover of public schools. Not true. This plan originated from the states, is voluntary, and is backed by 48 governors.

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This is the last week for public comment on proposed national education standards in English and math for all American public school students in grades K-12. The feedback on this consequential plan so far:

There is generally strong support for the quality and clarity of the standards, with some debate about whether standards for the earliest grades are too prescriptive. One big concern is whether the proposal amounts to a "federal takeover" of education – even though the common standards are being proposed by 48 state governors.

It's an understandable concern. Education has always been a local matter, because it's local tax dollars that largely support public schools.

(For a Monitor interview with US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, click here.)

But here's a competing concern. The states now show great disparity in student achievement. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which relies on state tests to measure student learning, exposed the differences. Some states have actually lowered their standards to make their test results look good.

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