>Maybe the reports are the same but It seemed to me that >in the 50's and 60's, the result was more talent >directed. There was more emphasis on academic >competition.
Sputnik-era education reform sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Recall that I mark the beginning of the modern era of education with Sputnik.
It was because of Sputnik that the financial flood gates were opened and a torrent of money has flowed into the Education Mafia. Money is the steroid of bureaucracy. The Education Mafia has grown big and hairy and ornery, and has come to completely dominate and transform education.
The ramifications are many and consequential. You could draw up a list. For example, before Sputnik, fewer people graduated high school and many fewer still went on to college. In them days, you could actually hold students to standards in ways no longer possible in the age of NCLB.
Once upon a time some children would be held back in grade while others would be accelerated. In the age of social promotion, we have neither the one nor the other. Reading levels are down at least two grade levels (I think this is too generous) and, in my humble opinion, math education has collapsed.
One could go on. What seems perfectly clear is that you can mark the beginning of the end of American public education with the Sputnik-era reforms. Indeed, we will learn in about three days whether education has so far degenerated that Americans are no longer competent to manage their own public affairs as a free and democratic people.