Report: Education failure puts U.S. at risk

Educational failure threatens our economic prosperity, global leadership and national security, according to a report by a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) task force chaired by Joel I. Klein, former head of New York City public schools, and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state.

Too many young people are not employable in an increasingly high-skilled and global economy, and too many are not qualified to join the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records, or have an inadequate level of education.

“Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America’s security,” the report states. “Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy.”

Among other policy suggestions, the report calls for expanding Common Core Standards to include “the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard the country’s national security,” including science, technology, foreign languages, creative problem-solving skills and civic awareness.

Update:  History, science and art are “truant” from school, said panelists at a  Common Core discussion. Common Core will be creating Common Core State Standards-based curriculum maps in history and geography. David Coleman, one of the lead writers of the new English Language Arts standards, said it’s impossible to teach K-5 reading “without coherently developing knowledge in science, and history, and the arts.”

 And that is why NAEP scores in early grades can improve slightly but collapse as students grow older. Because it is the deep foundation in rich knowledge and vocabulary depth that allows you to access more complex text.

Let’s not get confused here that [the CCSS] are adding back nice things [history, arts, science] that are an addendum to literacy.  We are adding the cornerstones of literacy, which are the foundations of knowledge, that make literacy happen.

There is no greater threat to literary study in this country than false imitations of  literature which do not deserve to be read.

Coleman told states not buy mediocre materials with a “Common Core” stamp.  Wait for the good stuff to be available, he said.

About Joanne


  1. Roger Sweeny says:

    Conduct a thought experiment: for every person you come in contact with for the next few days, ask yourself, “How much schooling does this person need to do his/her job?” The person running a cash register? Less than high school. The one who takes your height and weight at the doctor’s office, and then makes your next appointment and takes care of the paperwork.? Basic literacy and numeracy, plus some training on the software. Those people at your mother’s nursing home? Some are nurses and need specialized knowledge that is now only available in college but most–food preparers and servers, cleaners, etc.–can do just as good a job if they never took a high school course.

    Then ask yourself, “Should I really take this report seriously?” Would the unintended consequence of forcing people to go to school for more and more years simply be to create floor moppers with Associates degrees?

    • How much of an education would someone need to set up, maintain and repair a floor-mopping robot?  A fleet of such robots which cleans an entire building?

      That’s where Japan is headed.  High-skills, high-wage economies will go that way.  The USA can too, or become a third-world country.

      • A third world country? Impossible. Would the middle and upper classes just move? More likely we become a much more segregated society with an educated elite and a low-wage working class. But even then, it wouldn’t reach third world status.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        How much of an education would someone need to set up, maintain and repair a floor-mopping robot?

        I suspect they would need very little academic education. My next door neighbor wasn’t much of a high school student but he had owned a dirt bike for years. He raced it and maintained it. He’s now a mechanic working on cars. He does it well and makes a good living.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        He’d probably do damn well with the robots.

  2. Is that kind of like “A Nation at Risk” in 1983?

    Or perhaps the shot across the bow with Flesch’s “Why Johnny Can’t Read” in 1951?