Emmet Rosenfeld

Emmet Rosenfeld teaches English at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va.

Recent Articles

The Weakly Standards

When standards of learning (SOLs) first appeared in my Northern Virginia public-school classroom nearly seven years ago, they were hardly more than a lunch-table punch line -- another unfortunate abbreviation coined by board-of-education bureaucrats to browbeat our low-achieving, high-minority school. SOLs constituted a body of knowledge that students would learn in each academic subject. The initials became the sobriquet for both the curriculum and a test that, after a phase-in period of six years, kids would have to pass in core subjects by 2003 in order to graduate. Sometime after that, the state promised, schools' accreditations would be at stake. Along with 97 percent of those tested in Virginia, our school failed that first year. The old guard didn't panic: SOLs, too, shall pass, they assured us, just like the "open" classrooms of the 1970s and -- I raised my eyebrows here -- multiculturalism. Turns out, SOLs didn't go away. What started as a solution to improve schools became...