States Want Kids To Learn A Lot — Maybe Too Much [npr.org]
Jean Leising admits she’s no expert on brain development, but she still hopes to do something about the way kids learn.
Leising serves in the Indiana state Senate. Last month, she convinced her Senate colleagues to pass a bill that would restore instruction of cursive writing to the state’s educational standards — the set of skills and knowledge kids are expected to master in each grade level.
Even in the email age, teaching cursive might be a great thing. But when legislatures impose mandates on instruction, professional educators get nervous.
It’s not just controversial topics such as creationism, which is still a matter of debate in states such as Texas, Louisiana and Missouri. When legislators insist that students master certain material, whether it’s a specific historical event or a set of writing or math skills, it can interfere with the overall program that schools are guiding kids through.
“If you have too many cooks throwing too much decontextualized content into K-12 standards, they can very quickly become overwhelmed,” says Kathleen Porter-Magee, a policy fellow at the Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank.