Status of the Schools

August 24, 1984

Report Outline
Calls for Quality
Course of Change
Making Schools Work
Special Focus

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.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Education Issues
Jan. 27, 2023  Deaths of Despair
Sep. 23, 2022  Public Schools' Challenges
Aug. 12, 2022  Parents' Rights
Apr. 01, 2022  Online Learning
Jan. 21, 2022  Teaching About Racism
Oct. 01, 2021  COVID-19 and Children
Jun. 11, 2021  Special Education
Jun. 21, 2019  Title IX and Campus Sexual Assault
May 17, 2019  School Safety
Feb. 02, 2018  Bullying and Cyberbullying
Feb. 03, 2017  Civic Education
Sep. 05, 2014  Race and Education
Jun. 13, 2014  Dropout Rate
May 09, 2014  School Discipline
Mar. 07, 2014  Home Schooling
Dec. 02, 2011  Digital Education
Nov. 15, 2011  Expanding Higher Education
Dec. 10, 2010  Preventing Bullying Updated
Apr. 16, 2010  Revising No Child Left Behind
Mar. 26, 2010  Teen Pregnancy
Sep. 04, 2009  Financial Literacy
Jun. 05, 2009  Student Rights
Feb. 22, 2008  Reading Crisis?
Jul. 13, 2007  Students Under Stress
Apr. 27, 2007  Fixing Urban Schools Updated
Nov. 10, 2006  Video Games Updated
Mar. 03, 2006  AP and IB Programs
Oct. 07, 2005  Academic Freedom
Aug. 26, 2005  Evaluating Head Start
May 27, 2005  No Child Left Behind
Jan. 17, 2003  Home Schooling Debate
Sep. 06, 2002  Teaching Math and Science
Jun. 07, 2002  Grade Inflation
Dec. 07, 2001  Distance Learning
Apr. 20, 2001  Testing in Schools
May 14, 1999  National Education Standards
Apr. 10, 1998  Liberal Arts Education
Jul. 26, 1996  Attack on Public Schools
May 17, 1996  Year-Round Schools
Oct. 20, 1995  Networking the Classroom
Sep. 22, 1995  High School Sports
Jan. 20, 1995  Parents and Schools
Sep. 09, 1994  Home Schooling
Mar. 25, 1994  Private Management of Public Schools
Mar. 11, 1994  Education Standards
Apr. 09, 1993  Head Start
Nov. 30, 1990  Conflict Over Multicultural Education
Feb. 05, 1988  Preschool: Too Much Too Soon?
Oct. 23, 1987  Education Reform
Aug. 24, 1984  Status of the Schools
Sep. 10, 1982  Schoolbook Controversies
Sep. 03, 1982  Post-Sputnik Education
Aug. 18, 1978  Competency Tests
Jan. 26, 1972  Public School Financing
Nov. 03, 1971  Education for Jobs
Apr. 15, 1970  Reform of Public Schools
Aug. 27, 1969  Discipline in Public Schools
Dec. 27, 1968  Community Control of Public Schools
Jun. 14, 1965  Summer School Innovations
Oct. 28, 1964  Education of Slum Children
Jun. 05, 1963  Year-Round School
Mar. 28, 1962  Mentally Retarded Children
Dec. 17, 1958  Educational Testing
Sep. 25, 1957  Liberal Education
Jul. 11, 1956  Educational Exchange
Feb. 02, 1955  Federal Aid for School Construction
Mar. 07, 1951  Education in an Extended Emergency
Nov. 20, 1945  Postwar Public Education
Nov. 07, 1941  Standards of Education
Elementary and Secondary Education