Published July 25, 2023
In 1983, a national commission on education issued a report titled, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. The report sounded an alarm about the “rising tide of mediocrity” in American education. A lack of robust content and expectations had yielded poor outcomes. At risk were the “prosperity, security, and civility” of the United States. The urgent tone reflected the report’s context. The country was in the midst of the Cold War and just emerging from the economic misery of the 1970s.
In the 40 years since A Nation at Risk was released, policymakers have indeed made an imperative of education reform. Yet the hopes of the report’s authors have not been realized. Recent test scores show student outcomes declining, wiping out patches of only modest prior progress. Education in the United States continues to fall far short of challenging and equipping all children to pursue their full potential.
Why hasn’t the education reform movement spurred by A Nation at Risk achieved the success envisioned by the report’s authors?
Jennifer Patterson is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her work focuses on projects related to religious freedom and overcoming poverty, drawing on her more than 25 years of experience in public policy.
Picture from Unsplash