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The Need for Federal Government Involvement in Education Reform

Political Science 2301
Federal and State Government


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.


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.


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 Advancement of Science quickly launched
independent attempts to identify standards in science. Efforts soon followed in
the fields of civics, dance, theater, music, art, language arts, history, and
social studies, to name a few.


The decade of the 80s brought numerous education reforms, but few of
them were a dramatic shift from what has gone on before. Outcome-based
education (OBE) is one of those that is new, even revolutionary, and is now
being promoted as the panacea for America\'s educational woes. This reform has
been driven by educators in response to demands for greater accountability by
taxpayers and as a vehicle for breaking with traditional ideas about how we
teach our children. If implemented, this approach to curriculum development
could change our schools more than any other reform proposal in the last thirty
The focus of past and present curriculum has been on content, on the
knowledge to be acquired by each student. Our language, literature, history,
customs, traditions, and morals, often