Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Failing U.S. Schools and National Security

Weak Schools Said to Imperil Security argues that the performance of our U.S. schools is not only essential to our nation's economic prosperity but critical to our national security as well.

Here's an excerpt from the sobering fact based study:

"Flaws in U.S. schools are increasingly causing a national-security risk, producing adults without the math, science and language skills necessary to ensure American leadership in the 21st century, warns a report issued Tuesday by the Council on Foreign Relations.

Warning that "the education crisis is a national security crisis," the report says that too many schools are failing to adequately equip students for the work force, and that many have stopped teaching the sort of basic civics that prepare students for citizenship. Resources and expertise aren't distributed equitably, often hurting the most at-risk students. The situation, it says, puts the country's "future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk."

The report notes that U.S. students have performed poorly on international assessment tests against those from other nations that are making rapid strides. It points to reported shortages of qualified workers in the U.S. life-science and aerospace industries, and notes that the State Department and intelligence agencies are "facing critical language shortfalls in areas of strategic interest."

It cites a recent study saying that more than half of Americans aged 17 to 24 aren't qualified to join the military because they drop out of high school or graduate but lack the math, science, and English skills to perform well on standardized military-qualification tests.

The authors recommend expanding core standards for states—now focused on math and literacy—to science, technology and foreign-language skills. The report urges wider use of charter schools and other alternatives to neighborhood public schools that are underperforming, and it suggests an annual "national security readiness audit" to help policy makers and citizens assess the "level of educational readiness."

The report acknowledges the persistence of the problems it highlights, noting that many of the same risks were identified in "Nation at Risk," a 1983 report commissioned by the Reagan administration that warned of "a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people." But it cites reasons for fresh hope, including growing public awareness of the issues and bipartisan support for measures to address them.

"This country has a real but time-limited opportunity to make changes that would maintain the United States' position in the world and its security at home," it concludes."

Summing Up

In 1983 essentially the same conclusions were reached in "Nation at Risk." Since then the outlook has gotten considerably worse.

Government schools and government control of education have failed far too many of our kids, pure and simple. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence supporting this conclusion.

But the vested interests in perpetuating this failing situation are obviously very strong. As a result, our children's educational achievement levels relative to the rest of the world's children continue to decline.

Unless and until We the People insist on accountability and choice for U.S. schools and parents, respectively, we will only have ourselves to blame when the next failing report comes out.

We have lots of problems but none more fundamental than the failure to educate and develop informed and knowledgeable future citizens.

The apparently unconcerned public sector unions and allied government officials must be confronted and overcome by We the People. Otherwise we'll have failed our kids and grandkids.

Monopolies don't create good results. Government schools are monopolies. We need to rid ourselves of these monopolies and create markets where parents receive vouchers and are allowed to spend those vouchers on the school of their choice.

Who among us finds vouchers and parental choice an unacceptable alternative compared to the disgraceful situation in American public education today?

Thanks. Bob.

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