Tuesday, March 16, 2010

16 March 2010 Who cares what Texas wants

16 March 2010

It is time to establish national standards, time to establish national ID’s, time to establish national professional licensure.

The current practice of professional licensure requirements for Dr’s, RN’s Clinical Lab Scientists, other health care professionals, attorney’s, and a host of other professions that demand high degrees of education and/or instruction being left to the individual states should be done away with. The knowledge base for a properly educated RN does not change from state to state. Anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, biochemical analysis, medical microbiology, and other core and special knowledge and skill sets remain the same regardless of what state a practitioner is standing in.

Driving skills necessary to drive a vehicle safely are the same in all states.

The basics of hand gun and long gun ownership and use are constant even though the regulations controlling who may buy and use firearms differ widely as one crosses state lines and even zip codes.

As the amount of information about individuals by means of instant on-line data base access grows, so does the rationality for national licensure whenever possible. Such standardization of licensure makes a great deal of sense but is guaranteed to anger the “states’ rights” crowd.

While the concept of “states’ rights” was necessary to convince some of our original states to become members of the new nation, most of the reasons for states acting as semi-autonomous agencies no longer remain valid except in hold-over capacities from the foundation days of the nation. What remains has allowed the wide disparity of educational requirements that regulate education in today’s U.S. We have created a system that allows local school boards to determine curricula, resulting in huge knowledge gaps from location to location. Schools in the northern U.S. generally provide a better basic education than those in the south. This was true during the years I was involved with my children’s education. I can’t voice personal experience now but listening to the products of various local schools I see no reason to change my assessment.

We need to establish national curricula for all grade levels designed to bring all local schools into compliance with the standards required to graduate from the top schools in the nation’s public school systems. We need to demand all students be provided with education in sciences and mathematics; and that they develop and maintain fluency in English. All high school graduates who can handle the academic challenge should be provided with a university level scholarship, to be available after 2-3 years of national service.

We need to realize and act upon the fact that not all students are going to be academically capable and most certainly not academically equal. There is no reason to place students who cannot master math and English skills into classrooms with those students who can. While “mainstreaming” and pretending that all students are equal may have made many parents with less capable children feel better, it does a disservice to the students and to the school systems. We need to return to older practices, college prep tracking for the academically capable and vocational schools for those who can’t or who don’t want to master university level work.

The current efforts by Texas school board members to revise history as taught in Texas so as to reflect the political views of the board’s majority, point out the very real need for both national standards and the necessity of having those standards developed by people who are recognized experts in sciences, mathematics, and particularly history. There must be no opportunity for anyone to apply a political overlay to our national or world history as taught in this nation. A lot of our history is less than enviable. The same is true of any nation. But we must block attempts to alter what we teach for reasons of political correctness just as we must maintain accuracy despite political opportunism or political advantage. Texas can serve as a warning beacon.

The concept of individual states licensing professions, trades, and privileges serves only to keep us mired in the past. We are one nation comprised of 50 states. We need to present a unified set of trade rules and regulations to other nations. A high school graduate should have the same capabilities and skills whether he graduated from a wealthy Massachusetts town or a dirt poor Arkansas rural district. We have the chance to mend some of the mistakes we’ve allowed to happen as we have tried to make this a nation to be proud of in all ways. I can only hope we are smart enough to realize that we need to demand the best of all students and ignore those who want to retain a status quo that clearly has not worked.

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