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Reform: It All Began 25 Years Ago In Charlottesville -- Right?

Conventional wisdom has it that the current reform movement started in 1983 with the release of the Nation At Risk report, but EdWeek makes a pretty good case with this piece (Historic Summit Fueled Push for K-12 Standards - Education Week) that a better starting point would be 25 years ago (1989) in Charlottesville, Va.

Penned by Alyson Klein, the EdWeek piece reaches back to some of the folks involved in the 1989 summit and some of those who're working on national standards today. In a few cases - Achieve's Mike Cohen, for example -- they are still working at it.

My old boss, Jeff Bingaman, was a committed member of the National Education Goals Panel, which was one of the entities that came out of the standards movement of that time, and was a strong advocate for the voluntary national assessment that President Clinton proposed funding in his second administration in order to provide cross-state comparisons beyond NAEP and give the national standards that were being developed some extra emphasis in schools and districts.

Check it out.  It seems so long ago, it's almost a dream.  But it wasn't that long ago -- and many of the same issues are part of Common Core and whatever happens next. Image used with permission. Image used with permission from the Bush Presidential Library.


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One might argue that a better beginning might be identified in the Carter administration, since Jimmy Carter is the one who raised the department of education and its secretary to an independent cabinet-level post. Ronald Reagan didn't want a federal department of education, and "A Nation at Risk" was a report generated only because Reagan couldn't kill a department of education that needed to find something to do. George H. W. Bush had far more interest in education, as did Bill Clinton, and they made a bit of progress. But things went sour when George W. Bush brought in his bogus "Texas Miracle" formula and made it national with the help of a credulous Congress that failed to form a loyal opposition when it was most needed. Unfortunately, Barack Obama has walked farther down that same path, and the federal government has shifted from being a partner of the states in education to their unconstitutional oppressor, regardless of how benign its intentions may be.

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