Report challenges NCLB

The report begins:

“The welfare of our nation rests heavily upon our system of public education.  We strive to provide all of our children with equal access to a high-quality, free education because we know that without it, our democratic way of life will be at peril.”

Twenty-five years ago, the publication “A Nation at Risk” suggested fundamental changes were needed in the education system in the United States.  The writers recommended strengthening high school graduation requirements, that colleges should adopt more rigorous and and measurable standards, and that more time be devoted to the “New Basics.”  I’m not sure what the new basics were, since I was just beginning my teaching career.  But, the clarion call for change lead to educational reform.

Now, the Forum for Education and Democracy, a think tank of educational thinkers, have issued “Democracy at Risk: The Need for new federal policy in education” – another clarion call for change.  The report enumerates a number of concerns:  the fact that more students live in poverty and lack health care than 35 years ago, U.S. students rank lower in international math and science assessments than they did a few years ago, and the number of high school graduates is declining – “we only graduate 70%” while other nations graduate all of their students.

The recommendations include improving teaching and teacher training, engaging communities, identifying research that show promising practices in education, and providing states with the money to provide more equitable educational opportunities for all students as well as giving “money for safe housing, health care, and other services to improve children’s success in school.”

“The challenge is clear: improving education and improving democracy go hand in hand.”

Education Week covers the news conference held earlier this week.

The 72-page document is a “must read” for anyone interested in improving education and educational access so that all students graduate with a high school diploma.

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