A nation at risk redux
In language that tried to capture the sweep of 1983’s A Nation at Risk, a Council on Foreign Relations task force warned this week that the nation’s poor educational outcomes represent a threat to national security, in addition to dampening America’s competitiveness in the global economy. The panel, chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein, blamed the “innovation deficit” and the very structure of an ailing system of public education that de-emphasizes the values of choice and competition so prized in nearly every other sector of American life. While calls for common standards, school choice, and foreign language skills aren’t unusual today, what matters here is who is doing the calling. As the Wall Street Journal noted, it’s a testament to how far the choice movement has come that such recommendations are endorsed by so-established a group as the CFR. Dissents from task force members, especially those from American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, cheered the report’s embrace of national standards but complained that choice and competition have undermined public education and haven’t worked “in a scalable and sustainable way.” But we can provide high-quality public and private options if Weingarten were to step aside and allow statehouses to experiment with some of the report’s bolder suggestions.
"Panel Says Schools’ Failings Could Threaten Economy and National Security," Associated Press, March 20, 2012