One of the most controversial education debates centers around the issue of standards and curriculum decisions. Should standards be regulated at a local state level or by United States government at a federal level? There are advantages and disadvantages to regulation at both levels, although it seems everyone agrees a decision should be made so the United States can experience proper progress in education reform. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) passed in the early 2000s brought the topic to an even greater debate. One of the biggest issues of NCLB is that educational standards each state must meet were decided on at a federal level, but the act authorized states to decide if schools met the required proficiency level.
Support for federal regulation includes the rationale that national standards create a comparable and equitable educational experience for all students, support for the growing need to compete globally, and allow for better collaboration among educators across the country (Evans, 2008, pp. 7-9). These are very valid reasons, especially if states have not demonstrated they are not capable of solving these issues. However, a better approach might be to advise local officials about steps they can take to enact similar policies to work toward common educational goals. Main arguments against national standards is that centralizing educational decisions and authority results in a loss of policy makers understanding needs within the local community and the loss of valuable teachers and administrators (Evans, 2008, pp. 14-16). In a country as large and populated as the United States, how can the federal government properly and efficiently decide on the educational needs for all? While there should be similarities among states, it is not beneficial to students or educators for all decisions to be implemented at a national level.
National versus local regulation is a very complex subject that should involve a longer discussion. I am still undecided on my preference as I reflect on my experiences as a student and my desires as a teacher. In 6th grade I moved from California to Washington. I remember one day in a science class when I realized I had previously learned what my teacher was teaching that day. At first I thought it was great that I did not have to learn something new, but then I wondered what I was going to miss. Did my new class already cover a different topic I should know? This memory leads me to believe national standards will help prevent this from happening. As a teacher, I think about how easy it would be if there were national standards and regulations. It would be easier for me if could easily move around the country and not think about a new state teaching certification or creating a completely new set of lesson plans. But it is more important to me to feel like my professional opinion will make a difference. I also believe that my students’ parents should have easy access to how standards are decided and regulated. I doubt our voices will be heard on a national level. Overall, the foundations of a democratic society area more important to me than the advantages of the federal government making all the decisions.
Evans, D. (2008). Taking sides: Clashing views in teaching and education practice. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Higher Education.