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Education: A National Security Issue?
posted by: Alix | March 20, 2012, 04:06 PM   

Everyone knows that our education system is inherently linked to our success as a nation. If our students are not prepared for the jobs of tomorrow, the United States will be incapable of competing in a global economy. A new report issued by the Council of Foreign Relations task force, states this and much more, asserting that not only is our economy at risk, but that the nation's security could be threatened if our schools don't improve.

Drawing comparisons to the Reagan-era report, "A Nation at Risk" that warned of "a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people," this new analysis calls for major changes in our struggling education system. Chairs of the task force, Former New York City Schools Chief Joel Klein and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, state that too many schools are inadequately preparing students for high-level positions and that without quality human capital, American security will be threatened.

In the report, the task force illustrates a harsh reality where the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies are facing critical shortfalls in the number of foreign language speakers, and that fields such as science, defense and aerospace experience a constant shortage of skilled workers. While these predictions are disastrous in terms of filling high-level positions such as spies and diplomats, our ability to staff our own rank and file military is at risk.

According to the report, 75% of American young people do not qualify for military service because they are either physically unfit, have criminal records or hold inadequate levels of education. The statistics are due to the fact that 1 in 4 students fail to graduate high school in four years, and another 30% of graduates perform too poorly in core subjects to qualify for basic training.

While the report depicts dire circumstances for our future, the panel which consists of 30 members with backgrounds in education and foreign affairs, highlighted areas for where education reform should focus in the coming years to reverse the trends. Among the recommendations:

  • Common Core State Standards should expand to include subjects beyond math and English Language Arts;
  • Charter schools and vouchers should be explored as a means to remove students from struggling schools;
  • An annual "national security readiness audit" should be implemented to examine how schools are addressing the country's needs through increased foreign language programs and technology curriculum.

While many of these policies are already being implemented in states and districts across the country, author Joel Klein called on education leaders to embrace these policies with a new level of urgency. "It's not happening at the level we're needing to happen," Klein stressed. "We've made some progress, but we need to do it in a much more accelerated way."

The report, issued nationwide today, will undoubtedly yield reactions by prominent education leaders. Only time will tell if this report will function as serious rallying cry for school reform.

What do you think about the report's findings and recommendations?
Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
Failing schools or impossible mission?
written by Bill, New Jersey, April 11, 2012

If you think teachers and administrators are the problem, try this.
Replace the teachers and administrators of the worst school in your state with the teachers and administrators from the best school. That is the ONLY change allowed. (I am seeing teachers from a high income suburban school moving into an inner city school with around 30% absenteeism, high % of illiterate students who didn't learn in previous years, students threatening teachers and each other with physical violence, no students doing any homework, students not paying any attention to the teacher during class, etc.) Which is the more likely outcome?

1. After a year we would see great improvement in achievement by almost all students.
2. By the end of the year most teachers will have requested a transfer or quit the profession.

Having said this. There is help in the works that will deliver to teachers prepared and interested students even in such desolate situations. No, we are not resorting to public execution of the poorest performing student in each school at the end of each semester. It is a secret souce that with any luck will be sprinkled on students across the country before the end of the 2012/13 school year that will turn them from apathy at best to highly motivated students. Hang in there.
Elephant in the room
written by Bonnie, Indiana, April 07, 2012

From an outsiders view, this sounds impressive. After all, if one has not spent much time in the classroom, it is easy to point fingers. However, the elephant in the room that no one discusses is the break down in the family, and its subsequent effects on education. Until the majority of parents see education as valuable...until students come to school ready to learn and realize it is indeed work to learn...until students don't expect to be entertained in school...until education is valued for the opportunities it presents,,,until parents work with the school rather than against it...until the government quits giving a free ride to dropouts...we are indeed doomed to mediocrity at best.

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