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.

Schools drop foreign languages

Short of funding, elementary and middle schools are dropping foreign language study, reports the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

From 1997 to 2008, the share of all U.S. elementary schools offering language classes fell from 31% to 25%, while middle schools dropped from 75% to 58%. High school language instruction was static, according to the nationwide survey published this year by the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, D.C.

The central Wisconsin village of Marathon City cut Chinese-language classes this year, after five years of offering the language. Why Chinese? Marathon City grows ginseng, used in Chinese herbal medicine. China is a major customer.

“In a world of global trade, a second language can be a surefire ticket to a career,” reporter John Schmid asserts.

Really?

Much of Europe and Asia, by contrast, make second and third languages compulsory, beginning early in grade school, according to Center for Applied Linguistics researcher Nancy Rhodes, who wrote the report on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.

“They will all become multilingual students of the world, while U.S. students plod along,” Rhodes said. “We’ll be left in the dust and unable to communicate with people around the world.”

Chinese grade-schoolers start learning English by third grade under a national law that supports Beijing’s export ambitions – which means China is producing English speakers by the hundreds of millions.

We’ll be able to communicate: They’re all learning English! It’s the language of trade. When the Chinese stop teaching English, we’re doomed.