April marked the 35th anniversary of the 1983 Nation at Risk report which identified a ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ in American public and higher education. The Ronald Reagan Institute Summit on Education (RISE) was held on April 12 in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the anniversary of that seminal report and assess what progress, if any has been made. The speakers included former and current Secretaries of Education and a host of who’s who in education leaders, writers and researchers.
Unfortunately, the Summit did not present actionable solutions which would produce any improvement in education, just as no significant improvements resulted from the Nation at Risk report itself or the countless national and state education strategic plans that have been produced since.
Interestingly, this continuing nationwide educational failure was verified just days before the RISE event through the unveiling of the Nation’s Report Card, NAEP, which revealed that two-thirds of U.S. students are not proficient in math and two-thirds are not proficient in reading.
This, despite the fact that the U.S. spends more per student than any other nation.
Because of the significance of the event, RISE organizers were able to get seven Secretaries of Education to speak at the summit. Amazingly, each Secretary shamelessly admitted that educational mediocrity has continued unabated. These Secretaries of Education presided over the failure to achieve proficiency in math and reading, the very basic skills necessary for success in academics and in life, for more than 100 million children over 35 years!
I was invited to attend the summit but did not because, having attended similar events over the years, I was certain the summit would not have answers and would be filled with lame excuses for the continued failure to achieve success in the essentials of learning.
As I watched the video of the summit, my assumptions were fully confirmed: no one had answers! Most had excuses.
And then it hit me: would we ask the CEOs of corporations which failed 2/3 of their customers to appear on a panel to talk shamelessly about their failures? If American medical care systems failed two-thirds of their patients, would we ask their top CEOs to pontificate about how to improve the system?
The reason education administrators can show their faces at such events is that they truly believe they did everything they could, so, obviously, it’s not their fault.
Instead, we have been repeatedly told and were retold during the RISE presentations that we struggle to effectively teach children in poverty, minorities, immigrants and special education, which account for over half of America’s students, and therefore, it’s not educators’ fault.
Yet, I can show you classrooms filled with these very students who made average gains of two and a half years growth in a single school year, where 95% are at or above grade level because a teacher trusted computer assisted instructional software and implemented it with fidelity.
We truly have a silver bullet in delivering mastery to every student through immediate interactive feedback provided by high-quality computer-assisted instructional software, integrated effectively into the instructional model, yet few educators are using it.
Three and a half decades ago, the Nation at Risk report stated that our education system was so ineffective that if a foreign power had imposed it on us we would have considered it an act of war. Yet during the last 35 years, none of these seven Secretaries of Education, nor leaders in education public policy, nor school boards, nor any of the 1,400 teacher colleges in
America have declared war on mediocrity.
It’s time for war on educational mediocrity; it’s time to truly battle for our children and not allow the edu-crats to continue to hold them hostage. It’s time to move our schools into the 21st century. It’s time to give taxpayers what they have been paying for. The first battlefront should be in reading and math where in a single school year every student can achieve mastery.
Please learn more by watching my video presentation given to hundreds of education administrators from across the nation at the Utah State Capitol.