Gov. Sarah Palin has opted out of an effort to develop national education standards for reading and math curricula, a decision that has riled some but satisfied other Alaskan education officials, the Anchorage Daily News reports.
Forty-six states have agreed to help create the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an effort to allow states to compare their students' academic progress at each grade level using a single rubric. Alaska joins Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas on the shortlist of states that have bowed out of the attempt to form what many believe education in the United States has lacked for too long: a common denominator.
Carol Comeau, superintendent of the Anchorage School District, said she was disappointed in Palin's decision. Alaska's pupils have a right to know how they measure up against their peers in other parts of the country, Comeau said. The Anchorage School District serves nearly half of Alaska's 120,000 public school students.
Others say Palin is right to question whether national standards will work in Alaska's unique public school system, one where students frequently learn in small, isolated, mixed-grade classrooms. State Education Commissioner Larry LeDoux said Alaska can always adopt the standards after other states write them. Participating in the process now would indicate implied consent to adopt the standards later, he said.
Palin says she is keeping an open mind about implementing the standards once they are finalized. "If this initiative produces useful results," Palin says, "Alaska will remain free to incorporate them in our own standards."
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