Date: Apr 27, 2013 6:16 PM
Author: Jerry P. Becker
Subject: VIDEO A Nation At Risk: 30 Years Later
FOR YOUR INFORMATION ...
BELOW YOU CAN SEE A VIDEO, "A nation at risk: 30 years later." Before
it, just below, you can see an entry in Diane Ravitch's blog giving
David C. Berliner's take on the same subject. Berliner is Regents'
Professor Emeritus at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College of Arizona
State University. His interests are in the study of teaching and
general educational policy. He is the author, with Bruce J. Biddle,
of The Manufactured Crisis: Myths, Fraud, and the Attack on America's
From Diane Ravitch's blog, Wednesday, April 24, 2013. See
Three Decades of Lies
By David C.Berliner
We have endured 30 years of lies, half-truths, and myths. Bruce
Biddle and I debunked many of these untruths in our book, The
Manufactured Crisis, in 1995. But more falsehoods continue to surface
all the time. The most recent nonsense was "U. S. Education Reform
and National Security,"a report presented to us last year by Joel
Klein and Condoleezza Rice. A Nation at Risk had us losing the
political and economic races to the Soviet Union and Japan. Did we?
No. Our economy took off, the Soviet political system collapsed, and
Japan's economy has retreated for two decades. So much for the
predictions of A Nation at Risk.
The newest version of this genre by Klein/Rice has us losing the
military and economic races to China and others. But this odd couple
seems to forget that militarily we spend more than Turkey, China,
Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, India, Italy,
Brazil, South Korea, Australia, and Canada combined. If we are in any
danger now, or in the foreseeable future, we must have the most
incompetent military in the world.
As for economic subjugation? Not likely. The Chinese are still
stealing our patents. They still manufacture things for us. More
important, they still have around 300 million of their population in
remarkably deep poverty and millions more in near-poverty. They need
to bring a population about the same size as the United States out of
poverty. They must provide enough food, drinkable water, clean
energy, breathable air, and employment for an urban population that
is expected to reach nearly 1 billion people in coming decades.
Will China be competing with us, or will they be so deeply involved
in trying to satisfy these pressing internal needs that we are of
only secondary concern to them? None of us is smart enough to know,
but Klein/Rice, like the authors of A Nation at Risk, like to create
devils. Be afraid! Be very afraid! Then, as part of the exorcism,
these writers promote destroying the evil public schools, which then
brings to us a new age of national success though vouchers, charters,
tax credits, and online schooling. What a crock.
These critics never blame our economic woes on, say, Jack Welch,
America's most admired CEO. Welch is quoted as saying he wishes he
could put every factory GE had on a barge and tow it to wherever in
the world labor was cheapest. Could such leadership affect our
economic problems? None of these school critics ever blame GE for the
neglected neighborhoods and family poverty that hampers success in
many of our schools. Yet it has been reported that GE, led by
patriots like Welch, earned profits of more than $14.2 billion in
2010, and paid no federal taxes that year. In addition, GE received
$3.2 billion in tax benefits that year. Is it possible that the
health of our economy and military are related to factors like these?
Nah, blame the schools. In A Nation at Risk and the Klein/Rice
report, it is not Welch and his ilk that endanger the United States,
it is our teachers and their unions; it is lazy parents and
Condoleezza Rice must be quite trustworthy as an educational critic
since I once read a column of hers titled "Why We Know Iraq is
Lying." Joel Klein is a trustworthy critic since he gained experience
failing to help the New York City schools improve, and was linked in
the press to educational fraud. He now works at a for profit
And Bill Bennett, who promoted A Nation at Risk and was first author
on "A Nation Still at Risk," is also not to be taken seriously. He
made a lot of money from speeches that promoted morality and attacked
the public schools. But at the same time he was losing millions of
dollars gambling, and went into the "for profit" ed business. So
Bennett and Klein gain much by badmouthing public schools and
promoting privatization plans.
Frankly, it looks to me like our nation is more at risk from critics
like these than it is from the hard-working teachers and
administrators trying to help poor kids and their families get ahead
in a nation that is increasingly stacking the deck against the poor.
It really is not an achievement gap between the United States and
other nations that is our problem. We actually do quite well for a
large and a diverse nation. It's really the opportunity gap, not the
achievement gap that could destroy us. If only the wealthy have the
opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed for a
post-industrial economy we are, indeed, a nation at risk.
David C. Berliner is Regents' Professor Emeritus at the Mary Lou
Fulton Teachers College of Arizona State University. His interests
are in the study of teaching and general educational policy. He is
the author, with Bruce J. Biddle, of The Manufactured Crisis: Myths,
Fraud, and the Attack on America's Public Schools.
This article originally appeared on Education Week's OpEducation blog.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION ...
Click the image to watch
Nation At Risk: 30 Years Later
Thirty years ago today, A Nation at Risk was released to a surprised
country. Suddenly, Americans woke up to learn that SAT scores were
plummeting and children were learning a lot less than before. This
report became a turning point in modern U.S. education history and
marked the beginning of a new focus on excellence, achievement, and
Owing in large part to this report, we now judge a school by whether
its students are learning rather than how much money is going into
it, what its programs look like, or its earnest intentions. Education
reform today is serious about standards, quality, assessment,
accountability, and benchmarking-by school, district, state, and
Yet we still have many miles to traverse before we sleep. Our
students still need to learn far more and our schools need to become
far more effective.
To recall the impact of A Nation at Risk these past three decades and
to reflect on what lies ahead, we invite you to watch a short video
retrospective developed by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the
American Enterprise Institute:
Nation at Risk: 30 Years Later.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244