Re: the right to pursue excellence

Cathy Pauline Lachapelle (aelin@leland.Stanford.EDU)
Tue, 6 May 1997 09:22:24 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 5 May 1997 wrote:

> Cathy wrote:
> << I think you're overstating the power of the federal government here.
> Goals 2000 is nothing but show. Even most states have very little power
> compared to local school districts. And districts can in fact be quite
> different from each other. >>
> Cathy, I don't know about your state, but here in Illinois, and in many of
> the states I have heard about, there is a big movement toward outcomes-based
> education. Many of the school districts in Illinois that I am familiar with
> are changing radically due to the State Board of Education's "IGAP" (Illinois
> Goals Assessment Program). You wouldn't believe how many school hours are
> now spent on assessments. Where do you suppose the states are getting this
> idea? From the Goals 2000 and similar federal programs. What is driving the
> change? Federal dollars. States that comply will get money.
> Local school districts traditionally have had control over their schools, but
> I am afraid that is changing rather quickly. And I am fearful, as Scott Gray
> is, that the long arm of the federal government will try to reach into the
> private school domain if it is given the opportunity.

Hi Melissa,

You're right, some states are definitely flexing their muscles. I don't
know if Goals 2000 is inspiration for this, or a reaction (jumping on the
bandwagon) but it is scary to have states setting any kind of standards --
especially if those standards are measured, like by tests, and so teachers
teach to the tests. Yeesh. Is Illinois the state that also implemented
"mastery learning"? That was scary -- I don't know if it's still going on
(I think it stopped, or maybe that's just hopefulness on my part) but one
of the northern midwest states decided that every child in a public school
in the state would have to do the same program, where they would go
through a curriculum, individually (meaning worksheets) one step at a time
until they passed some test, and then they would be allowed to go on to
the next step. Talk about deadening (for kids, teachers, everyone).