Education Issues – State v Federal Standards

Former Intel CEO Craig Barrett is behind the Common Core State Standards Initiative and hopes you will be too….
Mr. Barrett sees common education standards as essential to creating the work force of tomorrow and he wants to Standardsnarrow the gap in education quality among the states. All of which sounds ideal . . . if we can agree on what those standards are. And if we can avoid the common trap of dumbing the standards down so most students in most states can pass – for the sake of passing.

I am all for setting a minimum bar. After all, how can we expect workers to understand the difference between a 401k, Roth IRA, and Keogh Defined Benefit Plan if they can’t do basic math? Labor needs have changed. It is not sufficient to be able to lay brick. Now even a brick layer needs to understand the various mortgage options he has when purchasing a home, the investment choices he has within his retirement account and the economic consequences of his union membership.

The more technology within a field the more precision and understanding for math concepts is needed. Do you want Homer Simpson running the nuclear power plant?

But the setting of standards requires that we come to a consensus on where we want the country to go and we have reason to believe that we know how to get there. With the sensitivities now displayed in textbooks, it’s hard to imagine that any knowledge can be imparted. Can we get everyone together on what is important? Whose values trump?

Without a single responsible party, or a genuine leader, the push for standards falls apart. In all fairness, states can work together the create mutually agreeable standards without involving the federal government, but the slope to federal intervention is slippery, particularly with a federal government that is increasingly centralized. In societies of the past this has typically been the work of a wise elder. We need to find a wise elder.


If you have a suggestion for a “wise elder” please include it in the comments box. If you are filling in a comment box for the first time, don’t fret, the name/email are just to verify that you are human – not spam. That information is not retained or used.

The winner will be interviewed here for his/her suggestions on education standards. If I can figure out how to host you and the person you nominate for lunch, I’ll do that too. Let’s amp up the conversation on education. Please nominate a Wise Elder today!

Image courtesy of U.S. Army CERDEC

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