Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Educating our kids is a state concern

Most political watchers were busy following news about congressional redistricting yesterday.

But, it's worth noting a separate political story that could have a much greater impact on the future of our state's residents.

According to the Boston Globe, the Massachusetts Board of Education voted unanimously yesterday to use national education standards instead of our existing state curriculum frameworks. (Please click here to read the full Globe/SHNS story online.)

Supporters will argue that adopting national standards is good because it brings Massachusetts in-line with other states and it helps us to get federal funding. And, to be fair, we're sure there are probably some parts of the national curriculum that will improve what Massachusetts already teaches to its students.

But overall, adopting national standards is a bad idea. We think there's something decidedly important about Massachusetts choosing what's best for its students, whether or not they do the same thing in Texas or California. Adopting national standards naturally inhibits our ability to make those choices and takes away beneficial parts of our unique curriculum.

Massachusetts has always distinguished itself by taking the lead in public education. We are home to some of the finest and richest educational facilities in the world. Public education is part of our state constitution. We pride ourselves in our teachers, dating back to the work of Horace Mann in the early 1800's. Why, then, are we now choosing to be a follower by ceding our educational authority to national concerns?

And, for that matter, why do we need a Board of Education anymore? With a national curriculum in place, exactly what is it that they are deciding for our students?

True leadership would be for the Board of Education to examine national frameworks and import worthy improvements into our curriculum, while preserving our state autonomy and ignoring whatever we don't like.


  1. But wasn't there also an equally important story that the Teachers Union was going to accept test scores as a basis to determine teacher pay and firing of poor performers? Sounds like a breakthrough if it is true.

  2. Yeah, and isn't it interesting that the 'breakthrough' came on the same day the board of education decided to water down testing standards...

  3. Think of this: If someone in Massachusetts proposed scrapping our state tax code and requiring residents to just pay the state the same amount they pay Uncle Sam, the idea would be rejected immediately. Why? Because, even though it would be simpler and you could say it would be smarter to rely on federal tax policy expertise, adopting federal tax standards would eliminate the ability of local leaders to set tax policy. We pride ourselves in being able to be different, for whatever reason. Why don't we look at education the same way? We think we need to retain local control.

  4. We should scrap our state tax code. Take the bottom line taxable income on the Federal return and multiply by a state factor. Send it along with the Federal Tax payment and have the Fed's reimburse the state. Wow, bet we could save mega-millions !! And besides, what do our State Legislators know about tax policy other than to raise taxes?


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