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The Importance of a Uniform Curriculum in Public Schools
It is no surprise to anyone that our public school system is failing our children so badly. Students do not acquire the basic skills necessary for adulthood, nor do they retain the majority of the knowledge imparted to them. Worse still, teachers must spend valuable time reviewing work from the previous year to ensure that all students have an equal knowledge base.
Each teacher has a board-approved curriculum to guide their lesson plan. While the curriculum indicates which concepts are to be achieved in a specific school year, no concrete lessons are explained. For example, the math skill expectation might be “Uses the properties or attributes of angles or sides to identify, describe, or distinguish (specific shapes)”. Sounds logical, right? And that expectation could extend from second to fourth grade, so which teacher teaches it? Second? Third? Fourth? The way it usually works is that the school decides to buy books that they think adequately cover the intended curriculum. Teachers design their individual lesson plans around the material in the textbook and the material the administration encourages them to cover. Now suppose there are three different classrooms in third grade. Each teacher designs a different lesson plan covering different material and may not move on one material at all or cover more than the required material.
Flash forward for the next school year. Seven students from a class that did not cover enough, ten students from a class that covered everything necessary and four students from a class that managed to go a little further are now in the same class. No matter how the teacher teaches, there will be problems – students left behind or bored with endless revision…nothing effective in this system.
There are additional issues when students move from several different elementary schools to middle school and when students move out of the district, or worse, out of state, finding a completely different set of standards and expectations.
What is needed is for the United States to develop and adopt a uniform national curriculum that clearly outlines what teachers should teach at each grade level. A standard federal curriculum would allow each student to strive for the highest possible standards. Students unable to keep up would receive special attention, just as they currently do. Of course, this would not solve all the problems of the public school system. There would always be students who would learn faster or slower than others and each teacher has a different teaching style which can affect absorption and retention. But at least it would put all American students on the same educational page.
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