Thirty years ago next month our first child, Lacey, was born. Of course, way back then, my wife and I were full of hope (and some trepidation) about raising this child in a rapidly changing, politically polarized, economically distressed, globally interdependent world. Whew! Was that really 30 years ago? Like so many parents of grown children say, it seems like yesterday.
I heard the exact same thing said today by Bill Bennett and Checker Finn at an excellent Fordham Institute forum on the 30th anniversary of the seminal “A Nation at Risk” Report. So much has happened in education in the intervening years but yet it still seems like yesterday when the report was released amid much fanfare and great controversy. Judging from all of the recent conversations — see this AEI/Forham video, and EdWeek op-ed, — there is an immediacy to the report with some big time relevance, not to mention lots of rhetorical pizzazz.
My sense is that the seems-like-yesterday comment is more than just a nostalgic declaration. I suggest you read the 30-page report again today. It will seem like it could have been written yesterday. Many of the same issues raised way back then about standards, quality, and inequities continue to exasperate us today. Yes, you can see progress in some of the numbers (see Ed Week’s info graphic) but the devistatingly persistent achievement gaps and glaring opportunity inequalities continue to put our country at risk in profound ways.
by Fordham Institute and American Enterprise Institute