Calls for Quality
National Response to Pleas for Changes
The crisis in America's classrooms that has grabbed headlines for more than a year may not be over, but massive help is on the way. Ever since April 1983, when a federal commission warned the nation of a “rising tide of mediocrity” in its schools, educators, legislators and the public in general have debated how to improve the quality of education in America. More than that, the federal government and most states have taken steps to upgrade education in the nation's public schools. “There has been in the last 12 months more concerted nationwide action than at any other time in my memory and that includes [the activity following the 1957 Soviet launch of] Sputnik,” said Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning.
Every state has either already enacted or is considering instituting reforms that affect all facets of the educational system, from upgrading school curricula and raising high school graduation requirements to lengthening the school day and year to raising teachers' salaries, rewarding quality teaching and stiffening teacher certification requirements. “The national education reform movement is of epical proportions,” said Milton Goldberg, who served as executive director of the National Commission on Excellence in Education. “One of the things that we are most pleased about,” Goldberg added, “is that it is not just educators who are participating. It is political leaders, business and industry, and citizens.”
It was the National Commission on Excellence in Education that triggered the upsurge in attention to public education with publication on April 26, 1983, of “A Nation At Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform.” It warned in blunt language that “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people.” In succeeding months another half dozen independent studies buttressed the commission's
findings. While they differed in specific recommendations for change, these reports shared a sense of urgency about the need to improve public education.