Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Panel: National Security Threatened By Low-Performing US Schools

The AP (3/20, Hefling) reports that according to a report from a Council on Foreign Relations task force led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, "the nation's security and economic prosperity are at risk if America's schools don't improve." The panel's report "cautions that far too many schools fail to adequately prepare students." The report suggests that "critical shortfalls in the number of foreign language speakers" in the State Department and the intelligence agencies could threaten national security, and a dearth of skilled technical workers in the defense and aerospace sectors "is expected to worsen as baby boomers retire." Meanwhile, the report states that "75 percent of young adults don't qualify to serve in the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records or inadequate levels of education."

Noting that the report is scheduled for release on Tuesday, the Huffington Post (3/20, Resmovits) compares the report with the 1983 "A Nation at Risk" report which "warned of 'a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.'" The current report, the Post reports, indicates that the "story hasn't changed." The Post adds, "The report, called the US Education Reform and National Security report, argues for treating education as a national-security issue, noting that deficiencies in areas like foreign languages hold back America's capacity to produce soldiers, diplomats and spies. It calls for increased standards, accountability and school choice -- charter schools and vouchers -- to increase America's international educational standing." The Post notes parenthetically that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is among the education experts to have met with the panel in the past year.


Bloomberg News (3/20, Hechinger) reports that the report says that "a crisis in the US public education system poses 'a very grave national security threat,'" and that "subpar public schools threaten recruiting for the State Department, intelligence agencies and the armed forces." According to Klein, Bloomberg News reports, "the policy prescriptions, which have already sparked controversy within the task force, are timed partly to spur discussion in the Presidential election. ... The group's broad recommendations -- including tougher curriculum standards adopted across states and accountability through testing -- resemble the agenda of President Barack Obama's administration."


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