WEFOUNDEducational Reforms in Europe in Their Relation to Jewish Emancipation, 1778-1878 (Classic Reprint)


After Russia launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, concerns about national security spawned intense rhetoric about the quality of American schools. Americans fretted that high school and college graduates lacked mathematical and scientific skills that would help their country compete technologically. Significant federal resources were redirected toward producing more rigorous curricula and better serving gifted students who would bring ideas to help their country thrive.

In 1983, a federal report called “ A Nation at Risk ” provoked similar passions about the quality of American schools, this time focusing on economic as opposed to military worries, with Japan and Western Europe replacing Russia as our perceived rivals. Sandwiched between these two “educational excellence” campaigns were two decades of civil rights legislation addressing inequality of access to resources and programs across racial, gender, linguistic, socio-economic, and “ability” groups.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attempted to bridge the concerns about both quality and equality in public education through promoting statewide standards and assessments that all children should achieve. Clinton offered model standards that states could voluntarily emulate, since enforcing national standards was constitutionally unfeasible. Bush took standards a step further by tying federal sanctions to the performance of schools and districts on statewide examinations occurring annually in grades 3–8.

After Russia launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, concerns about national security spawned intense rhetoric about the quality of American schools. Americans fretted that high school and college graduates lacked mathematical and scientific skills that would help their country compete technologically. Significant federal resources were redirected toward producing more rigorous curricula and better serving gifted students who would bring ideas to help their country thrive.

In 1983, a federal report called “ A Nation at Risk ” provoked similar passions about the quality of American schools, this time focusing on economic as opposed to military worries, with Japan and Western Europe replacing Russia as our perceived rivals. Sandwiched between these two “educational excellence” campaigns were two decades of civil rights legislation addressing inequality of access to resources and programs across racial, gender, linguistic, socio-economic, and “ability” groups.

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush attempted to bridge the concerns about both quality and equality in public education through promoting statewide standards and assessments that all children should achieve. Clinton offered model standards that states could voluntarily emulate, since enforcing national standards was constitutionally unfeasible. Bush took standards a step further by tying federal sanctions to the performance of schools and districts on statewide examinations occurring annually in grades 3–8.

I love what I do. I love where I work. I love with whom I work. I feel like I am given the space I need to do my job, and I believe my admins are sincere whenever they offer to help and listen to any concerns I have. However, I feel like so much more can be done to improve public education overall. Therefore, I propose significant changes in public education for 2017. These ideas are based on educational policies found in other countries, such as Finland, Japan, and France, where students perform among the highest on standardized tests. What follows are reforms that I wish our policymakers would adopt when considering changes to public education.

1. Decrease the Number of Standardized Tests
Notice I suggest fewer standardized tests as opposed to no standardized tests. Standardized tests do have their place in education, but like with anything else, too much is overkill. Perhaps student progress can be tracked every 3 years as opposed to every year. This would save many states a great deal of money and students a great deal of stress. Furthermore, standardized tests should only be used to track student progress, not to indicate teacher accountability. There are other, more effective means to measure a teacher’s worth , such as observations, lesson plan reviews, and student surveys.

2. Give Teachers More Say in Policy
In my ideal world, teacher leaders would work alongside school board members so that both teachers and community members had a say in local policies. Only people with experience in the public classroom as well as with school administration could become superintendents (or the district equivalent), and this would hold true for state and federal departments of education. Any lawmaker who wanted to write policies that affected public education would have to visit a variety of classrooms and meet with a variety of teachers and students.


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