Less than two months after the nation’s governors and state school chiefs released their final recommendations for national education standards, 27 states have adopted them and about a dozen more are expected to do so in the next two weeks, reports the New York Times. Their support has surprised many in education circles, given states’ long tradition of insisting on retaining local control over curriculum. The quick adoption of common standards for what students should learn in English and math each year from kindergarten through high school is attributable in part to the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition. States that adopt the standards by Aug. 2 win points in the competition for a share of the $3.4 billion to be awarded in September. “I’m ecstatic,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. “This has been the third rail of education, and the fact that you’re now seeing half the nation decide that it’s the right thing to do is a game-changer.” Even Massachusetts, which many regard as having the nation’s best education system–and where the proposed standards have been a subject of bitter debate–is expected to adopt the standards on July 21. But some supporters of the standards, like Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, worry that the rush of states to sign up–what Weingarten calls the “Race to Adopt”–could backfire if states do not have the money to put the standards in effect. “I’m already watching the ravages of the recession cutting the muscle out of efforts to implement standards,” she said. “If states adopt these thoughtful new standards and don’t implement them, teachers won’t know how to meet them, yet they will be the basis on which kids are judged.”
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