“Our nation is at risk. The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity. If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament. History is not kind to idlers.”
Those warnings, grim and intentionally provocative, were issued last week by the 18-member National Commission on Excellence in Education in a 36-page report called A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. Headed by University of Utah President David P. Gardner, the NCEE was set up 20 months ago by Secretary of Education Terrel Bell to examine U.S. educational quality.