Wednesday, April 07, 2010

The Case for Common Educational Standards

The former CEO of Intel with a strong endorsement of common standards:

As a former CEO of a Fortune 500 company, I know that common education standards are essential for producing the educated work force America needs to remain globally competitive. Good standards alone are not enough, but without them decisions about such things as curricula, instructional materials and tests are haphazard. It is no wonder that educational quality varies so widely among states.

…Fifty different sets of standards make no sense. It is much more efficient and less costly for states to mutually develop standards and then work together on the tools needed, such as tests and textbooks, to ensure the standards reach classrooms, teachers and students.

I realize that some critics worry that common state standards will lead to federal standards and a big government encroachment on matters traditionally the domain of states and localities. But as a conservative businessman, I can't agree with these arguments. The common core effort has been 100% voluntary. And while the federal government hopes to incentivize states to adopt common standards, the effort has been entirely state-led, with no federal funding or exertion of influence over their content.

The world has changed considerably in the past century, and our education system must keep pace. In 1950, 60% of all jobs were classified as "unskilled" and available to those with high-school diplomas or less, according to research published by the Education Testing Services. Now more than 80% of jobs are skilled, requiring education and training beyond high school, according to research published by the Brookings Institution. For example, to work on the manufacturing floor at Intel today, an employee must have an associate's degree or higher.


The Case for Common Educational Standards

In 1950, 60% of the jobs required no particular skills. The world has changed.


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