Will new approaches improve education?


Now that more than 40 states have committed to implementing new national learning goals for math and English, opposition to this initiative to improve public-school achievement has grown louder. Although the learning standards were developed under state rather than federal auspices, many conservatives view them as an unacceptable federal intrusion into the right of local communities to shape education for their own children. Opposition also has grown among teachers and education scholars, who argue that the initiative’s reliance on standardized testing to drive school improvement is worse than useless, since low-achieving schools and disadvantaged students often lack the resources to succeed. As lawmakers determine how best to allocate scarce education resources, debate continues over whether to expand preschool education, how to rein in college costs and whether increased support for charter schools and private-school tuition are the most effective use of tax dollars.

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