NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Talk, But No Action On Education

April 3, 1996

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education met and issued a report calling American education "mediocre." In 1989, the first National Education Summit talked and issued a report calling for educational improvements. Now, another National Education Summit has met and called for higher standards.

But over the years nothing much has changed in the nation's classrooms.

  • From 1983 to 1993, combined SAT scores grew only 1 percent.
  • Under California's $26 million Learning Assessment System, children are asked to use pictures to answer English questions, and essays to answer math questions, and were graded as much on political correctness as basic knowledge.
  • In Ohio, state officials set the minimum competency test for high school graduation at eighth-grade levels -- and gave students nine chances to pass.

Reformers identify the problem as a proliferation of interest groups -- each with veto power -- leading to little student effort, but inflated grades.

As they see it, the way out is to abandon the present centralized system and let groups test their own ideas through charter schools and the voucher system. This would guarantee parents the choice of how their offspring were educated and introduce long-delayed accountability in education through a free market.

Source: Editorial, "Standards Talk: Standard Talk," Investor's Business Daily, April 3, 1996.


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