Seems as if Al Shanker and the AFT are as "lazy and dishonest" as I am (read below). Then, of course, there's the NYC school system which instituted tougher standards for all ninth graders with results praised by the New York Times editorial board. All "lazy and dishonest, those NY'ers!!!
Then there's the recently released report from the California Taskforce on Math which recommended real content based standards measured by standardized tests. "Lazy and dishonest" so-and-so's!!!!
Mike, referring to your beliefs as almost religous in their nature is not a personal attack. You, yourself, made great pains to tell us this has nothing to do with quantitative analysis. It does, indeed, resemble faith. And my point being (if you read my post) was this makes any serious discussion with you nearly impossible. Because we are asked to believe it, because Mike believes it. (Since you've dismissed any efficacy involving the social sciences, the "research" the NCTM Standards are based on must be wholly specious. This, according to your paradigm, not mine.)
By Albert Shanker
This year's Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll, "The Public's Attitudes Toward the Public Schools," gives policymakers a clear picture of what Americans want. The results are consistent with "First Things First," a survey by the Public Agenda Foundation that I have commented on in previous columns. The public continues to call for commonsense steps to improve the schools. Is anyone listening?
On top of the list of school problems that concern the public is lack of discipline in the schools. The blame for this is placed on parents' failure to control, supervise, and discipline their children. But the public does not want schools simply to stand by. If a student is guilty of continually disruptive behavior, 20 percent want the student expelled while 77 percent want the student transferred to a separate facility to get special attention. If the student is "guilty of violence against another student or teacher," 31 percent favor expulsion and 66 percent transfer to a separate facility.
The public strongly favors higher academic standards and wants a get-tough policy here, too. By 87 percent to 10 percent, the public thinks students should have to meet "higher standards than are now required in math, English, history, and science in order to graduate from high school." Asked whether they think that higher standards would "encourage students from poor backgrounds to do better in school, or ... cause them to be discouraged or to drop out," the public believes (60 percent to 29 percent) that students would do better. Asked if they would favor higher standards for graduation even if it meant that fewer students would make it, they said "yes" by 65 percent to 29 percent. The public doesn't just want higher standards in high school. By 78 percent to 20 percent, they favor setting standards "for what students [in grades K-3] should know and be able to do."
Congress should pay attention. The public wants less federal influence on schools (64 percent to 28 percent), more state influence (52 percent to 37 percent), and more local government influence (64 percent to 24 percent). But, in order to make sure standards are maintained, the public favors "requiring students in the public schools of [their] community to pass standardized, national examinations for promotion from grade to grade" (65 percent to 32 percent). Also, while the courts and some in the Clinton administration have been pushing to put students with "learning problems" in the same classes with other students, rather than special classes, the public supports special classes (66 percent to 26 percent).
With the big Republican sweep last November, many people assumed there was large-scale support for private school vouchers. Not so. The public favors allowing parents to choose among public schools (69 percent to 28 percent) but opposes "allowing students and parents to choose a private school to attend at public expense" (65 percent to 33 percent). Roman Catholics oppose private school choice at public expense (54 percent to 44 percent), as do parents of children in non-public schools (51 percent to 44 percent). Private schools should take heed: The public believes that if private schools "accept government tuition payments for...students [they] should be accountable to public authorities" (73 percent to 24 percent).
Some liberals may be tempted to oppose the get-tough attitude about discipline and academic standards because they believe it reflects a right-wing shift that needs to be resisted rather than accommodated. They could cite the public's support for a constitutional amendment "that would permit spoken prayers in the public schools (71 percent to 26 percent)." But further examination would reveal anything but a hard-line, right-wing ideology. Seventy percent prefer a moment of silence or silent prayer; only 24 percent favor spoken prayer. If spoken prayers were permitted, only 13 percent would want them to reflect "Christian beliefs and values," while 81 percent say they should "reflect all major religions." More specifically, by a 73 percent to 20 percent majority, the public would want spoken Jewish, Muslim and Hindu prayers by students of these faiths, in addition to Christian prayers.
There are some pretty clear messages here. Parents and the public strongly support public education. But they want schools where students are expected to behave and meet high standards in academic subjects--and school employees feel the same way. They're right, too. All the evidence tells us that high standards for behavior and achievement get results.
It's time to give the people who have a real stake in public education what they want--and what works. So on September 6, AFT is launching a national campaign on standards of conduct and standards for achievement. We're calling it "Responsibility, Respect, Results: Lessons for Life." I'll be providing details next Sunday.