'A Nation At Risk': Its Legacy and Lessons Learned | Chalkboard Project

'A Nation At Risk': Its Legacy and Lessons Learned

Wednesday, April 24, 2013 Sue Hildick

This post originally appeared on Huff Post's IMPACT blog and can be read in its entirety here.

The recent passing of Margaret Thatcher signals the true end of an era -- Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan all were powerful leaders in the 1980s. While Reagan is now known largely for his international agenda, his domestic policies remain a part of our national fabric.

The end of April will mark the 30th anniversary of the groundbreaking "A Nation at Risk" education report issued during the Reagan Administration. No matter how one feels about Reagan's viewpoints, there is no doubt the report's stark introductory language is memorable:
"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."

Thirty years on we are still struggling with those words and how we are failing students especially those who live in low-income neighborhoods.

The 1983 report kicked off a national education reform effort that picked up steam in many states. Massachusetts and Maryland in particular made great strides and now are considered to be the states with the highest education standards in the country.

Meanwhile, I must admit my state of Oregon has many great features but a strong K-12 reform agenda has not been one of them. On state report cards, we get an A for being bike friendly and an A+ for hazelnut production. But Education Week gives us a C on its report card and ranks us 43rd in the nation for education based on numerous factors including how we treat teachers. We received a D in the subcategories of accountability for quality and incentives and allocations.

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