CATS Replaced – With National Education Standards???

Even as discussions about revising Kentucky’s CATS school assessments continue here, a national movement seems to be gathering more steam to push for one, US-wide set of education standards and tests.

The movement to standardize the current 50-state hodgepodge of public education standards has been around for some time, but even the Fordham Institute, a spin-off of what was once considered the fairly conservative Fordham Foundation, is now jumping into a leading position.

With the US Department of Education flush with billions of new bailout program dollars and the power that comes with that, and with the highly liberal crowd now in Washington not terribly respectful of traditional constitutional restraints, an education tsunami may indeed be getting triggered as I write this.

One thing is certain. If you think the “CATS” fight over standards and testing has been a howling mess here in Kentucky, just wait until you see the fight move to DC. There, all sorts of education interests will be fighting – tooth and nail – over the recently much fattened, multi-billion dollar education pie.


  1. You speak of the liberal crowd “not terribly respectful of traditional constitutional restraints…” You’ve got the wrong crowd not respectful of constitutional restraints.

    It’s the departed Bush-Cheney and highly conservative crowd that’s not respectful of constitutional restraints. That’s why John Stuart Mill correctly observed:

    “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.”

    As far as our founders were concerned, liberty should be an ever-expanding, as more knowledge came to bear on a subject.

    For example, in Federalist Paper 36, Alexander Hamilton referred to poll taxes as “odious and oppressive.” Government was never intended to be oppressive. Neither are “constitutional restraints” intended to be oppressive.

    What’s wrong with national educational standards? At least they’d likely start measuring the different styles of learning. There are at least seven.

    Those aren’t going to be detected by Bush’s multiple-choice question and answers, that “No Child Left Behind” failed to detect.

  2. Richard Innes says:


    It is true that the founding fathers rightly understood that change was expected – and actually not to be feared. But, that change was supposed to proceed from an orderly process that was pretty well laid out in the original Constitution.

    Certainly, there have been excesses over time on both sides of the aisle, but I think some of the most dramatic have come from the liberal side.

    This neglect of the rules took a huge surge many years ago when the Supreme Court grabbed the power of judicial review for itself while then president Thomas Jefferson (a liberal in his era) just stood idly by. Nothing in the Constitution supported that power grab, and no law or change to the Constitution was passed to allow it. Now, the idea is institutionalized, so we move on, but with a serious governmental change that never met the proper process of legislative, or voter, review.

    There are other examples. Franklin Roosevelt’s National Recovery Act went too far, and, ironically, the same court that grabbed power for itself a century or so earlier said so.

    Roosevelt also engaged in all sorts of unauthorized aid to belligerents before World War II broke out. I just heard an interesting presentation from a senior citizen about a top secret ammunition plant that Proctor and Gamble set up in Tennessee specifically to supply the Brits with ammo – two years before Pearl Harbor. Our Navy was shooting at German subs long before December 7, 1941, as well. And, the Flying Tigers were going strong in China with “volunteer” American pilots – who all somehow got sudden discharges from the US military – well before that date that will live in infamy, as well. With the value of hindsight, all of this probably was a good thing to do, but this wasn’t what the public at the time and their elected representatives had approved. If GW had pulled even one-eighth of what Roosevelt did without authority, the liberals in this country would have screamed far louder for his impeachment and incarceration.

    Returning to my post, so far as national education standards go, their value will depend upon what they become. There is plenty of room for them to be better than what Kentucky has now, but they could also be a disaster. However, if you reread my original post, you will see I have not taken a position. What I said was that the fight over those standards will be an all out, tooth and nail battle.

    That nationwide battle would be partly misguided by a huge amount of poorly performed education papers that don’t meet minimal standards for scientific rigor. Because these papers (I hesitate to call them research) are not scientifically conducted, they cannot prove anything; but they still create a huge smokescreen around bad ideas that really don’t work. It will take a huge amount of informed deliberation to sort through all that mess.

    That leads to my main concern. The liberal crowd now back in DC might try to set up national education standards in secret and then rush them past a Congress that has already shown a proclivity to pass enormous, complex and hugely expensive bills without much discussion. It almost happened with the Clinton health care plan in the early 1990s, so I can’t rule this very real threat out.

  3. hmm… good post :))