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Assessing 20 Years of School Reform

Promising to improve education has been a requirement for politicians ever since the publication of the report "A Nation at Risk" in 1983. Gary Natriello comments.

Promising to improve education has been a requirement for politicians ever since the publication of the report "A Nation at Risk" in 1983. With bold language the report detailed the failures of American schools and warned of a "rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." Twenty years later, however, it's unclear whether the intervening decades of reform have had much effect. Today fewer teachers specialize in their subject areas than in 1983 and U.S. students still fail to score among the top nations internationally. Some argue, however, that the report did serve to focus national attention on education and energize reform efforts.

"This is a difficult and long-term kind of problem to be worked on, and solutions will not be quick or easy or inexpensive," said Teachers College professor of sociology and education Gary Natriello. "But what you can't quibble about," he says, "is that 20 years after (the release of "A Nation at Risk"), the interest is still there, and the issues have remained front and center in the policy world."

 

The article, entitled "Twenty Years After 'A Nation At Risk'" appeared in the April 22nd edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

Published Thursday, Apr. 24, 2003

Assessing 20 Years of School Reform

Promising to improve education has been a requirement for politicians ever since the publication of the report "A Nation at Risk" in 1983. With bold language the report detailed the failures of American schools and warned of a "rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." Twenty years later, however, it's unclear whether the intervening decades of reform have had much effect. Today fewer teachers specialize in their subject areas than in 1983 and U.S. students still fail to score among the top nations internationally. Some argue, however, that the report did serve to focus national attention on education and energize reform efforts.

"This is a difficult and long-term kind of problem to be worked on, and solutions will not be quick or easy or inexpensive," said Teachers College professor of sociology and education Gary Natriello. "But what you can't quibble about," he says, "is that 20 years after (the release of "A Nation at Risk"), the interest is still there, and the issues have remained front and center in the policy world."

 

The article, entitled "Twenty Years After 'A Nation At Risk'" appeared in the April 22nd edition of the Christian Science Monitor.

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