Finn recalls a 1989 summit in Charlottesville that included the first President Bush and various state governors, “only the third time in history that a U.S. president had convened the governors in this way."
Al urged an agenda for it that rings as true in my ears today as it did nearly three decades ago—an agenda that the summiteers followed in part. “The top of the agenda,” Shanker wrote, “should be the issue of national goals and standards and a system of assessments to go along with them. We’ve had a school reform movement going for six years now, and we still haven’t decided what our students should know and be able to do....[I]t’s possible to set national goals and standards—even establish a national assessment program—and still leave a tremendous amount of flexibility for states and local school districts.”
He got the accountability part exactly right: “For the first time, people in a community would really have some firm basis for evaluating their schools; they would know how their students were doing compared with the students in the next county or state.”
And that wasn’t all. He offered two more “top-priority items for the summit agenda.” One was “how to get schools to engage in the constant self-examination that allows successful organizations to renew themselves and change as problems change.” The other was “how to prevent and deal with the problems increasing numbers of our kids bring to school with them.”
Right, right, and right.