Education Standards are a description of what ought to be taught, grade by grade, in order to prepare a student for graduation, for college, for the workplace … and for life.
Standards should be the same for all American students regardless of where they live, their family status or income. And they should be high enough to ensure that all students receive a solid grounding in subjects like math and English to become successful adults.
Our aim is not to “nationalize” the curriculum in each grade by having Washington officials dictate a lesson plan for every school in the country. States and local communities are responsible for educating students, and that must be respected. But it is essential that all American students learn the skills that prepare them for life.
We are not advocating one particular solution. There are many possible ways to arrive at an agreement on American education standards, and we hope to encourage debate on how to reach that agreement.
Learn more about why every American student should master strong basic skills knowledge in subjects such as math and English.
Effective Teachers in Every Classroom
Teachers are the single greatest “natural resource” in education. But in America, we do not act like it:
- We do not give teachers the same opportunities for advancement and better pay that other professionals enjoy.
- We do not offer higher salaries to compete with other professions for adults who have strong math and science backgrounds.
- And we do not pay teachers more even when we ask them to take on harder jobs.
We must change that.
Across America, state and local leaders are starting to roll up their sleeves to fix these problems. Some are finding ways to value ambitious young teachers by giving them the opportunities for advancement and better pay that other professionals enjoy.
Others are working harder to staff disadvantaged schools with more experienced and effective teachers or finding ways to fill teacher shortages in subjects like math and science.
More Time and Support for Learning
We need to provide successful and struggling students alike more time for in-depth learning and greater personal attention.
We are expecting students to learn more than ever before so they can be better prepared for life. But learning takes time and it takes support. If we are going to demand more from our students, it is our obligation to give them what they need to succeed.
We are not simply calling for students to spend more time in school, adding hours and days that just offer more of the same. Instead, we should build on lessons from innovative schools that are revitalizing and rejuvenating education by providing richer instruction. Those lessons include:
- Better instruction in the basics: Teachers in subjects like math, reading, science, and history will have more time to answer students’ questions, explore topics in greater depth, and incorporate hands-on projects like science labs that require longer class periods. Teachers will be able to plan better lessons because they will have more time to work together to improve student learning.
- Opportunities for enrichment: Students will have more time for art, music, drama, debate—activities that build confidence, challenge young minds, and teach skills beyond the academic curriculum. At the high school level, enrichment can include topics like college counseling and career exploration.
- Personalized attention: Teachers will have more time to work with students one-on-one, and students will have more time to get tutoring and advice from adults when they need it. Those interactions also will build stronger, more supportive relationships between teachers and students—a factor proven to dramatically reduce dropout rates.