A task force warns that if America's schools don't improve, the nation's security and economic prosperity are at risk.
The report from a Council on Foreign Relations-sponsored task force says the United States' "failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country's ability to thrive in a global economy and maintain its leadership role."
The task force, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City's school system, warns that the country "will not be able to keep pace - much less lead - globally unless it moves to fix the problems it has allowed to fester for too long."
The group goes on to claim that while the U.S. struggles to educate its young, other countries around the world are improving their education systems.
The report cites national statistics on educational outcomes that the task force says are disheartening:
- More than 25-percent of students fail to graduate from high school in four years; for African-American and Hispanic students, this number is approaching 40-percent.
- In civics, only a quarter of students are proficient or better on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
- Although the United States is a nation of immigrants, roughly eight in ten Americans speak only English and a decreasing number of schools are teaching foreign languages.
- A recent report by ACT, the not-for-profit testing organization, found that only 22 percent of U.S. high school students met "College ready" standards in all of their core subjects; these figures are even lower for African-Americans and Hispanic students.
- The College Board reported that even among college-bound seniors, only 43 percent met college-ready standards, meaning that more college students need to take remedial courses.
The Task force proposes three main policy recommendations:
- Implement educational expectations and assessments in subjects vital to protecting national security.
- Make structural changes to provide students with good choices. "Enhanced choice and competitions, in an environment of equitable resource allocation, will fuel the innovation necessary to transform results."
- Launch a "national security readiness audit" to hold schools and policy makers accountable for results and to raise public awareness.
The report includes recommendations to improve the quality of educators and leaders and work to better match training opportunities with the skills needed to compete internationally.
You can read the full report by clicking here.