Monday, August 07, 2006

It's 1958 at the National Governors Conference!

"No easy fixes for states: Education," by Diette Courrege, front page of The Post and Courier, Monday, August 7, 2006.

Yes, it is true that when the U.S.S.R. launched Sputnik (I heard about it at a friend's house in West Oak Forest when the story broke), a vociferous hue and cry emerged to get students into science. And a generation of astrophysicists (none from the Charleston public schools that I know of) emerged (although many through necessity have now transferred to other scientific fields), but to suggest that America's inability to "attract and graduate students in science" constitutes a new phenomenon is just plain wrong. And, poor preparation in math and science at the high school level has always been the cause!

The Newsless Courier's take on a Sunday session at the National Governors Association meeting might as well have been printed for the 50th meeting in 1958 as for the 98th this weekend! Who knows, maybe a bit of digging would show that the same comments and solutions recommended in 1958 have been re-proposed in 2006.

The reporter states that "[it's] a complex problem," probably mirroring the comments of the attendees. The complexity comes from how schools are controlled. States now (and have always) determined their own standards. That's a minimum of 50 sets of standards. "Think tanks and foundations" can propose national academic standards until the cows come home, or the next "Sputnik" appears, but as long as students are captive to attending the nearest public school that is captive to nonpartisan school boards and liberal state bureaucracies, standards, regardless of how high they are set, will make no difference.

Here's the statement that set my teeth to grinding:
"South Carolina has gotten a bad rap for achievement, but education officials point to studies that show that the Palmetto State's academic standards are higher than those in some other states."

Please don't insult our intelligence! Nameless "education officials"? Such as our State Superintendent, who apparently to this day still believes that Wisconsin high school graduates need only 13 credits versus South Carolina's 22?

If South Carolina's academic standards are higher than any state that you know of, I'd like to know it so that I can send that state a condolence letter.

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