My mind was immersed in new knowledge this quarter in American Education: Past and Present, and to write a brief summary seems implausible. I learned a host of new acronyms—too many to count—some of which include:
- OSPI: Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
- NCATE: The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
- AFT: American Federation of Teachers
- NEA: National Education Association
- AFL: American Federation of Labor
- PEA: The Progressive Education Association
In addition to this laundry list of offices, federations and associations, I was particularly interested in learning about America 2000. America 2000 was a program advocated for by the Bush administration consisting of “a series of goals, published in pamphlet form, which the political leaders had agreed constituted a needed educational agenda for the nation” (Urban and Wagoner, 2009, p. 408). The core of the national agenda according to Urban and Wagoner, included a “statement of the need for national standards as the key aspect of educational improvement” as well as emphasis in preparing students and communities to become “lifelong learners” (2009, p. 2008). The original six educational goals of America 2000 include:
- All children in America will start school ready to learn
- Rate of highschool graduation must increase to 90 percent
- Students must demonstrate competency leaving grades 4,8, and 12
- Students of the United States must lead the world in science and math
- Every adult must be literate and posses necessary skills to be a responsible citizen
- Every American school must be safe, drug and alcohol free (Urban and Wagoner, 2009, p. 409).
One reason this program originally interested me, was the clear and unabashed national, political agenda. Its fascinating how the public responds when in fear. National fears of the increasing development and power of other nations, made many comfortable with allowing the national government to push political agenda in the classroom. Aside from this, I admire the ideals represented by these goals, but as is the classic problem in educational reform, implementation of these goals was lacking. Having read and discussed many events in the development of education, I most strongly recognize that ideals and goals are admirable, but without detailed and organized ways in which adjustments can be implemented, little reform actually takes place.
Urban, Wayne J., Jennings L. Wagoner, Jr. (2009) American Education: A History.
New York: Routledge.