It seems as if the American elite establishment has finally discovered that our public schools are doing a lousy job of educating American children and that a drastic overhauling of the system is needed. That’s the conclusion of the Council on Foreign Relations Independent Task Force Report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security. Of course, I’ve been writing about the failures of American education for over 40 years, and national magazines have been publishing articles about the "dumbing down" of America and the decline of literacy skills for decades. But the elite wasn’t listening.
Now, all of a sudden, they are listening, mainly because there has been a change in personnel at the CFR. The CFR has always been concerned with security issues, but now they’ve discovered that a strong security force requires a well-educated citizenry. The CFR’s press release states:
"Educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk," warns the Task Force, chaired by Joel I. Klein, former head of New York City public schools, and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state. The country "will not be able to keep pace — much less lead — globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long," argues the Task Force.
The report notes that while the United States invests more in K-12 public education than many other developed countries, its students are ill prepared to compete with their global peers. According to the results of the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international assessment that measures the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics, and science every three years, U.S. students rank fourteenth in reading, twenty-fifth in math, and seventeenth in science compared to students in other industrialized countries.
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Sam Blumenfeld (photo)