Monday, March 19, 2012

US Education Crisis Affecting National Security

According to the Brookings Institute (2011), the US education crisis is now affecting national security:
It will come as no surprise to most readers that America’s primary and secondary schools are widely seen as failing. High school graduation rates, while improving, are still far too low, and there are steep gaps in achievement between middle class and poor students. Even in the midst of high unemployment rates, business owners are struggling to find graduates with sufficient skills in reading, math, and science to fill today’s jobs. School districts, teachers’ unions, and parents are engaged in fierce debates over the best way to rein in climbing costs and improve standards. Meanwhile, progress is frustratingly slow, if in fact what is taking place represents progress at all....

The domestic consequences of a weak education system are relatively well known... A world-class education system is vital to preserving not just the country’s physical security but also to reinforcing the broader components of American leadership, such as economic dynamism, an informed and active democracy, and a coterie of informed professionals willing and able to live and serve around the world....

In international tests of literacy, math, and science, American students rank far below the world’s leaders in Finland, South Korea, and Shanghai....

This failure and its consequences are not theoretical; they are real and already having a noticeable impact on individual students, particularly the neediest students for whom education is the only "intervention" capable of putting them on track to a better life, as well as on U.S. competitiveness, readiness, and future prospects. In short, America’s failure to educate is affecting its national security.

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Something is apparently very wrong with the US primary and secondary education systems. Society needs to come to terms with the root causes of this national crisis, especially given the implications for national security. As with national defense, our nation needs to learn how to get "more bang for the buck."

Source: US Education Reform and National Security (2011), Brookings Institute.

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