A panel of experts offered a dire assessment of the U.S. education system in a report released 30 years ago this week that sparked the modern school reform movement. Some excerpts from that report, "A Nation at Risk":
— "Our nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world."
— "If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. ... We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament."
— "History is not kind to idlers. The time is long past when America's destiny was assured simply by an abundance of natural resources and inexhaustible human enthusiasm, and by our relative isolation from the malignant problems of older civilizations."
— "A high level of shared education is essential to a free, democratic society and to the fostering of a common culture, especially in a country that prides itself on pluralism and individual freedom."
— "We are confident that America can address this risk. If the tasks we set forth are initiated now and our recommendations are fully realized over the next several years, we can expect reform of our nation's schools, colleges and universities. This would also reverse the current declining trend — a trend that stems more from weakness of purpose, confusion of vision, underuse of talent and lack of leadership than from conditions beyond our control."