The other day Jay Greene unveiled his Tight-Loose Travel Agency, as a followup to his Fordham Report Drinking Game.? ?What the two have in common is anyone's guess, which is a tipoff to Jay's tipsy logic in trying to expose what he thinks will be Fordham's vain attempt ?to explain their support for a nationalized set of standards, curriculum, and assessments while also embracing local control and federalism.?? Jay thinks that is an? ?attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable with a variety of oxymorons and otherwise empty phrases.?
In fact, I think Jay continues to miss the point of a common curriculum, which is to impart important knowledge (the "stuff of education" as Ted Sizer says), to be used to communicate with others. A national curriculum ? and what's in it -- is? "the coin of the realm" -- or should be.? The correct analogy here is not travel agency (or drinking game), but currency exchange. Today we treat American public school students like they live in different countries, each teacher handing out different coins (based on what? the kids' poverty and racial status?) -- coins not accepted by the next teacher, or the next school, or the neighboring state's test writers--right on up to Dropoutville, where you don't need no coins.
Sure, you could argue that having a national currency infringes on local control; but no one does anymore.? That's because the goal of a common? currency, as with the goal of a common curriculum, is to expedite the free trade of goods, services?and ideas. ?It's a tide that will lift all boats. And I'll drink to that.
--Peter Meyer, Bernard Lee Schwartz Policy Fellow