Iowa has long had a unique claim among states regarding local control of educational standards.
Iowa is the only state that does not have statewide standards regarding what specific knowledge needs to be obtained by what specific grade level.
Iowa's system of leaving standards up to individual school districts seems to have worked well, based on Iowa's average achievement on standardized tests, which is well above the national average.
However, the increasing role of the federal government in mandating accountability in education has put Iowa under increasing pressure to provide standards.
Last week, the Cherokee School Board approved core content standards and benchmarks corresponding to the Iowa tests (Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the Iowa Test of Educational Development). Approval of these standards was mandated by the state. The irony of the state mandating standards in order to allow local control was not lost on members of the school board nor is it lost on school administrators across the state.
School districts have to jump through increasingly more difficult hoops in the name of local control, which is increasingly more illusory.
John Chalstrom, superintendent of the Cherokee District, indicated to the board that most administrators in Iowa have had enough and are ready to accept state standards.
It is time to give up on the concept of local control of setting educational standards.
When the federal government is determined to fix something, it is futile to stand in the government's way, even if what is being fixed is not broke.