A crisis in the U.S. public education system poses a “very grave national security threat,” requiring an overhaul to offer families more choices, business, education and political leaders said in a report.
Along with undermining economic competitiveness and increasing inequality, subpar public schools threaten recruiting for the State Department, intelligence agencies and the armed forces, according to a task force headed by Joel Klein, the former New York City school chief now at News Corp. (NWSA), and Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State.
The report, to be released today by the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan research organization, follows international assessments of student achievement that have placed U.S. schoolchildren below their peers in other countries such as Japan and China. The policy prescriptions, which have already sparked controversy within the task force, are timed partly to spur discussion in the Presidential election, Klein said.
“The failure of U.S. K-12 schools to prepare young Americans with essential skills and knowledge puts this nation’s economic growth and competitiveness, physical security, information security, and national character at risk,” the task force said in the report.
The group’s members include Craig Barrett, former chief executive officer of Intel Corp. (INTC); Louis V. Gerstner Jr., former CEO of International Business Machines Corp. (IBM); Margaret Spellings, former U.S. education secretary; and Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.