Substandard American education threatens national security

The continued failure of the United States to provide decent education to its citizens threatens national security, says a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR.) The study was co-chaired by Joel I. Klein, former head of New York City public schools and Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State.

The report is blunt about the national security threats due to the US continually falling behind in education:

I’m not sure why every problem has to morph into a national security threat, but our education system is indeed falling behind not just the educations offered by other industrialized nations but also behind those of developing nations too.

Plus, the trend towards ever-more expensive colleges will inevitably lead to a nasty two-tiered class system with resultant and utterly predictable political and social unrest.

Look at the chart. When I was in 4th grade I was an Advanced reader and so were most of my classmates. By 8th grade everyone in my classes was at least a Proficient reader. Yet two-thirds of 8th graders now are merely Basic (or Below Basic readers.) If a child has fallen that far behind in something as basic as reading by 8th grade, then chances are they will never catch up and will automatically be excluded from many jobs and much else too.

Reading is the prerequisite for virtually all education. If you aren’t a fluent reader, you really can’t get educated.

How did our education system get so abysmal and what can we do about it?