After a 10-year experiment in “pressure-free education”, Japan has determined to go "back to basics" and add some 1,200 pages to the standard textbooks for elementary school students and give them more homework. The move, according to the "experts", is necessary to ensure that the Japanese students can compete with students from other countries and places like S. Korea and Hong Kong. (http://www.blnz.com/news/2010/09/05/Japan_fattens_textbooks_reverse_sliding_9bee.html)
The world is becoming more and more uniform. There is now a standardised test called PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) for students from all over the world. And, students in the US, from Florida to Alaska, are expected to live up to the "Common Core State Standards", a set of standards devised by the folks at the Council of Chief State School Officers who, after drinking who knows what it is, believe that they are capable of devising a set of uniform standards.
Longer school hours, more homework, more assessment and yet more homework...
Great. It sounds really great. Things won't get better until they can't get worse. Let more people join the mass of hysterical sleep-deprived zombie-like parents marching in the hall singing, "Top Scores to Our Children!"