American Education: 35 Years of Mediocrity Since A Nation at Risk

Congratulations, conservatives, this “mediocrity” is your disgrace. Here is Jeanne Allen writing at National Review:

Our school systems fail to prepare children to succeed as adults and are ineffective for the goal of deep and rich learning. It’s time to change that.

It’s been 35 years. With the passage of that much time, and the human promise that it carried, the problems and deficiencies identified in 1983’s clarion call for action should have been corrected.

The call came from the National Commission on Excellence in Education (NCEE) in its report A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. That report and its findings demonstrated the inextricable link between education and America’s economic competitiveness and national security. We were losing our edge, and our shirt, to other countries. In a growing global economy we were losing to such friends as Japan and Germany; and in the midst of the lingering Cold War we were losing as well to our fiercest competitors, namely Russia and China, which had made education, particularly in math and the sciences, national priorities.

At home, it was a different story. There was no special focus on education. We thought our schools were great. But the NCEE, a broad, bipartisan commission, had contracted with researchers, held hundreds of meetings and dozens of hearings, and assembled data about the progress of other countries relative to the U.S. And the data revealed otherwise.

There was “a rising tide of mediocrity,” A Nation at Risk told us, with educational content that “was a mile wide and an inch deep.” The report revealed, in the words of Ronald Reagan, an education system plagued by “low standards, lack of purpose, ineffective use of resources, and a failure to challenge students to push performance to the boundaries of individual ability.”

Read more: National Review