Tuesday, October 24, 2017

U.S. Education Threatens National Security

Failing Schools Could Pose Dangerous Threat

Terrorists, dictators, and unrest in foreign countries aren’t the only dangers facing our country. One of the biggest threats to national security in the United States of America is our school system. This is the message coming from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and the Independent Task Force report that recently assessed U.S. Education Reform and National Security.

Chairs of the committee include Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State, along with Joel I. Klein, the former head of New York City public schools. The task force determined that the failures of the U.S. school system leave the nation’s children unprepared and unable to compete on a global scale, threatening America’s role as world leader and the entire security of the country.

The report from the CFR concludes that because of the failing school system:

  • The future economic security of the nation is at risk.
  • The U.S. invests more in K-12 public education than other developed nations, but its students cannot compete.
  • The latest numbers (from the 2009 Program for International Student Assessment – PISA) show that when U.S. students are compared to students in other industrialized nations that they rank
    • 14th in reading
    • 25th in mathematics
    • 17th in science
  • More than 25% of students do not graduate from high school in a four-year time frame.
    • African-American and Hispanic students see rates as high as 40% for failing to graduate within four years.
  • Only 25% of U.S. students are proficient in civics – the study of citizenship and politics.
  • Even though only 20% of Americans speak a second language (as well as English), schools are removing foreign language classes from their curricula.
  • Only 22% of high school students in the United States are college-ready in all subjects, according to the ACT testing organization (again – the figures are lower for Hispanic or African-American students).

How Do These Education Failures Threaten U.S. Security?

The task force from the CFR has determined that failures in education pose threats across five security fronts.

  1. Economic growth and ability to compete
  2. Physical safety
  3. Intellectual property
  4. U.S. global awareness
  5. U.S. unity and cohesion

As our children are leaving schools with sub-standard skill sets, they are not able to obtain secure employment that contributes to the economy. These students are sadly sometimes not even qualified to join the military, as more and more they are out of physical condition, have criminal records, or don’t qualify academically. As the schools fail the children, the children fail their communities because they cannot contribute to the economy, the security, the diplomacy, or healthy growth. Without improved education systems, our children won’t be leaders in inventiveness and ingenuity (intellectual property), and won’t be able to contribute globally (global awareness). As these problems continue to build they will eat away at the confidence and capabilities of our nation to feel productive and united.

What Does the Task Force Recommend?

The Task Force developed three policy recommendations they feel will strengthen the public school system in America and therefore strengthen the nation’s security and growth prospects. It looks to me like only 1 out of the 3 proposed reforms are actually actions that might make a difference if done extremely well.

Implement education expectations and assessments in subjects vital to protecting national security. With the support of the federal government and industry partners, states should expand the Common Core State Standards, ensuring that students are mastering the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard the country’s national security.”

Great – another push for more tests that will require teachers to teach to yet another test. Mass standardized testing helped to get us to where we are – too focused on “no child left behind” so that we are all now far behind.

Make structural changes to provide students with good choices. “Enhanced choice and competition, in an environment of equitable resource allocation, will fuel the innovation necessary to transform results.”

This one actually makes sense – it is a call to action. It places the emphasis on enhanced choices and encouraging innovation. Our children need competitive, directed, varied, and far-from-cookie-cutter classes in order to succeed. Charter schools and apprenticeships are just two examples of options that have track records of success.

Launch a “national security readiness audit” to hold schools and policymakers accountable for results and to raise public awareness. “There should be a coordinated, national effort to assess whether students are learning the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard America’s future security and prosperity. The results should be publicized to engage the American people in addressing problems and building on successes.”

I think we have enough statistics to show that students are not being equipped with the means necessary to compete on a global scale. The Task Force itself just put out such numbers. It’s time to do something.

It is about time that voices are raised and heard about the necessary reforms needed in the public school systems. Large, over-powerful school districts, led by overzealous teacher unions, need to take back seats to programs that actually show they work. Instead of paying for the time and money it would take to assess a “readiness audit”, conduct a study to determine which types of education choices make the most sense for each community and child.

The next time the evening news flashed those line-up photos showing which criminals are plaguing our nation, they should flash one with the names of school districts taking millions of dollars and graduating at low rates.

Related posts:

  1. Old School Education
  2. Standardized Tests: Failures in Education
  3. Choosing the Right Path for Your Child’s Education

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