There are some obvious loop holes that prevent the US school system from being at par with other school systems around the world. The biggest loophole being that we Americans do not accept responsibility for this failure, and instead look for a stop-gap solutions for the problem. The “No Child Left Behind ‘is one such off-the-cuff solution, that now is doing more harm than good to the already ailing system. Change is not an overnight-fix; it has to be brought about methodically and gradually if it has to be all inclusive. If indeed it were done so, then there would be ‘no child left behind’!
The United States should consider having a national core curriculum, like it exists in countries like Japan, China, England, and India, that would mandate a certain level of academic competency across the states. This could be one definitive way of gradually increasing academic standards across the nation. A shared curriculum across state boundaries will also facilitate the build up of shared data bases for tests, projects, teaching strategies, teaching materials, and teacher resources. This in turn will give depth and scope to our education programs, and consequently the quality of the end products, in this case our students, will improve.
A national core curriculum will bring about a consistency in our teacher education programs as well, that have been under fire for the longest time. Having mentored several student teachers from various colleges and universities, I know to what degree education programs differ from college to college. Needless to say that none of these programs really prepare the student teacher for taking over a real classroom. A nationwide curriculum for schools will lend structure and balance to all teacher education programs. There will be a commonality of goals regardless of the college you attend. Furthermore when the novice teacher enters into a real world classroom she’ll find anchor in the national core curriculum, a document she’s already familiar with.
We do not have to become ‘second rate’ at anything if we can take responsibility for what is ours. Right now, it is our failing schools, our teachers, and our students that we need to call ours. Having done that, the next step is to strategize a gradual change in our educational system, and then what follows may not be the best, but it will definitely be something very close to the best.