40 Years Ago ‘A Nation At Risk’ Warned Of A ‘Rising Tide Of Mediocrity’ In US Schools – Has Anything Changed?

BY MORGAN POLIKOFF The National Commission on Excellence in Education’s release of a report titled “ A Nation at Risk ” in 1983 was a pivotal point in the history of American education. The report used dire language, lamenting that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.” Using Cold War language, the report also famously stated: “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.” The report ushered in four decades of ambitious education reforms at the state and federal levels. Those reforms included landmark policy shifts like George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act , Barack Obama’s Race to the Top program and major state reforms in areas including teacher quality, school choice and test-based accountability for schools and teachers. But what is the

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