In 1983, President Reagan urged students to understand the new world in which they lived: “Your generation is coming of age in one of the most challenging and exciting times in our history. High technology is revolutionizing our industries, renewing our economy and promising new hope and opportunity in the years ahead . . .”
“Make sure you get the training and skills you need to take advantage of [these] new opportunities… Get a good education. That’s the key to success. It will open your mind and give wings to your spirit.”
On the eve of the 35th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk our students’ wings are clipped. National achievement has been stagnant for too many years, according to the results of the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress. It’s as if we’re in 1983 all over again, when A Nation at Risk declared that “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”
The result then was a movement that catalyzed a nation into challenging the status quo. And yet, despite amazing progress creating the opportunities and changes in a tired system that have allowed millions of students to have education that they would not otherwise be able to access had it not been for this report, today’s education report card on the state of national reading and math are dismal. With fewer than 40 percent of our students proficient in any subject, these scores are a sobering reminder that we remain a nation at risk with far too many children and young adults poorly educated, unprepared to enter college or the workforce, and ultimately, unable to achieve the American Dream of living a rewarding, prosperous life.
Listen now to this special edition of Reality Check, as Jeanne Allen shares her insights and analysis of the trends and challenges we face if the nation’ does not transform how—and what—we do to educate learners at all levels.