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High road; Do the feds know what state knows?

COLUMN: IN OUR OPINION

State Education Secretary Paul Reville offered some welcome reassurance over the weekend when he told The Boston Globe that Massachusetts will not endorse any national education standards that are "not at least as rigorous as our own standards."

Mr. Reville's long service to education puts him in an excellent position to have observed and understood the value of high expectations in Massachusetts, even before the advent of the 1993 education reform law that has done so much to propel Bay State students to the front ranks of academic achievement.

We wish we shared Mr. Reville's cautious optimism that federal education authorities understand the value of high expectations and standards. They may, indeed. But some of the rhetoric out of Washington can best be characterized as cautiously edging toward the obvious. Is it really that difficult to conclude that any national standard, in any subject, should be revised upward if its first draft stops short of the best, proven standards already available in Massachusetts, Illinois or California? And if Washington wants to adopt standards that are less stringent than those in any one state, it is surely not that difficult to include language that makes it clear states are free to go beyond the suggested national standards.

Washington can allay all such fears on the part of states this very day, simply by vowing that any national standards will remain voluntary forever. And the best way to prove they are sincere on that point would be to refrain from penalizing any state that balks at adopting those standards.

Massachusetts officials largely understand that education is first and foremost about quality, high expectations and what works, and not about exercising rigid control over curriculum and ideology. Here's hoping the feds share that lesson plan with us.
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Title Annotation:EDITORIAL
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 16, 2010
Words:298
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