That’s the upshot of a story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. It begins:
Flaws in U.S. schools are increasingly causing a national-security risk, producing adults without the math, science and language skills necessary to ensure American leadership in the 21st century, warns a report issued Tuesday by the Council on Foreign Relations.
Warning that “the education crisis is a national security crisis,” the report says that too many schools are failing to adequately equip students for the work force, and that many have stopped teaching the sort of basic civics that prepare students for citizenship. Resources and expertise aren’t distributed equitably, often hurting the most at-risk students. The situation, it says, puts the country’s “future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk.”
What do we do, you ask? Exactly what CF and many parents whose kids are trapped in failing, violent schools have been requesting:
The report urges wider use of charter schools and other alternatives to neighborhood public schools that are underperforming….
The report acknowledges the persistence of the problems it highlights, noting that many of the same risks were identified in “Nation at Risk,” a 1983 report commissioned by the Reagan administration that warned of “a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.” But it cites reasons for fresh hope, including growing public awareness of the issues and bipartisan support for measures to address them.
“This country has a real but time-limited opportunity to make changes that would maintain the United States’ position in the world and its security at home,” it concludes.
Indeed. And you can imagine what comes after that inspiring call to action: whining from those who are profiting from the status quo. Here’s union boss Randi Weingarten:
Six members of the task force offered “additional and dissenting views,” including Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a leading teachers union. While praising the task force’s goals and endorsing the report, she criticized it for “placing inordinate responsibility for school improvement on individual teachers” and for “promoting policies like the current topdown, standardized test-driven accountability that has narrowed the curriculum and reinforced the teaching of lower-level skills.”
Memo to Ms. Weingarten: Violent, failing schools aren’t good for teachers, either. And the amount of money—including from sky-high property taxes due to the pensions for which unions have pushed—that teachers’ friends, family members, and neighbors are forced to put into schools that are not giving our nation what it needs is an outrage. It’s time for a new approach. That would be the same approach we use in virtually every other important decision in life, including higher education: choice and competition.