In 1983 a report commissioned by President Ronald Reagan was released by the National Commission on Excellence in Education entitled A Nation at Risk: the Imperative for Educational Reform. In that report was the following statement:
Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur–others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.
If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
I just watched a very important DVD on the subject of our public education system that was begun in 2008 and released in 2010. It is Waiting for Superman, and I strongly recommend you pick up a copy. It’s available via Netflix.
Mediocre? I wish were were aspiring to merely mediocre.
If you’ve got friends with kids, invite them over for a viewing party.
2008 was the 25th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk. According to Wikipedia:
(T)he nonpartisan organization Strong American Schools released a report card of our nation’s progress since the initial report. The organization’s analysis said:
While the national conversation about education would never be the same, stunningly few of the Commission’s recommendations actually have been enacted. Now is not the time for more educational research or reports or commissions. We have enough commonsense ideas, backed by decades of research, to significantly improve American schools. The missing ingredient isn’t even educational at all. It’s political. Too often, state and local leaders have tried to enact reforms of the kind recommended in A Nation at Risk only to be stymied by organized special interests and political inertia. Without vigorous national leadership to improve education, states and local school systems simply cannot overcome the obstacles to making the big changes necessary to significantly improve our nation’s K-12 schools.
I have a few quibbles with the video, but they’re relatively minor. One, no effort was made to discuss or even mention the problem of disruptive children and the inability of staff to deal with them and their “my baby didn’t do nothin’ ” parents in this age of litigation at the drop of a hat. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it is my belief that such children can and their gamete-donors present a serious problem to public education. Second, no mention of homeschooling as an option is made. The only models pursued are the public education and private parochial education ones. Since the focus of the piece is about “fixing” the public education system, I suppose that’s understandable.
But the information that’s in this video is very important, and you’re not hearing it in the MSM. Please, if you have children or grandchildren, watch it. Educate yourself. Understand the unmitigated disaster we’ve allowed to develop. There are people out there with solutions, but enough people have to grok the problems before the solutions will be allowed to be implemented. Too many people have the wrong priorities.
And if I ever hear a NEA flak say “It’s about the CHILDREN!” in my presence, I think I’ll vomit on their shoes. It’s not about the children to the teachers unions, it’s about the adults. Period.