Standards in Public Schools: A Policy Statement of the Rural School and Community Trust


Last Updated: March 01, 2000
 

Standards in Public Schools

PDF (32 KB)
 
In Brief: Strong local communities are the best habitat for excellence in education and education is the responsibility of the whole community. Setting high academic standards and achieving against those standards is an important educational objective, but the quest for higher standards can be exploited to serve other purposes. This statement sets out the Rural Trust's general view of this important policy issue.

The Rural School and Community Trust is rooted in the belief that strong local communities are the best habitat for excellence in education. From our perspective, every community is a richly detailed place able to provide a laboratory for learning, children are young citizens whose work in school should serve to improve their community, and education is the responsibility of the whole community, not only of professional educators. How does this philosophy respond to the call for high academic standards in public schools?

Setting high academic standards and achieving against those standards is an important educational objective that is now widely held. The standards movement is diverse, including many business and political leaders, professional educators, cultural activists, and others. It is motivated by many concerns about the direction and effectiveness of America's schools.

The policy debates surrounding standards are closely tied to school finance reform and governance, teacher education, school accreditation, and other issues. With this central role comes the risk that the quest for higher standards can be exploited to serve other political purposes. Standards can help achieve excellence. Misused, they can serve less worthy purposes. All concerned with education policy and practice should be deliberate in their approach to standards.

This statement sets out the Rural Trust's general view of this important policy issue. We invite critical responses to this statement from those ‘ especially rural people ‘ that have different perspectives from our own.