Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

THE EDITOR'S PAGE: Ever 'At Risk'

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

THE EDITOR'S PAGE: Ever 'At Risk'

Article excerpt

IT IS HARD to believe that it has been 20 years. But this month marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of A Nation at Risk, and this month's Kappan carries an article by Gerald Bracey that looks at the life story of that document, at how it came to be, at its impact at the time of publication and its echoes through the last two decades.

As many of you read this article, I'm sure you'll share my sense of deja vu. But remember that a teacher fresh out of college who entered the classroom a decade ago was in middle school when the report was issued. Older readers, though, will remember the report and the reaction of the education and policy communities. And, like me, you might even be able to dredge up the titles of some of the flood of reports that appeared between 1983 and 1988, many of which were at least indirectly inspired by the success of A Nation at Risk in garnering national attention and all of which cited it with some deference.

Indeed, I clipped and saved a now-yellowed sidebar from a 1988 Education Week that enumerated the major reports on education published between 1983 and 1988. Seven are listed for 1983, beginning with A Nation at Risk; six for 1984; seven for 1985; six for 1986; five for 1987; and just one (the list was published early in the year) for 1988.

As one who had already logged a couple of years on this staff when A Nation at Risk burst on the scene in April of 1983, I can testify that fragments of its florid rhetoric have acquired lives of their own. The opening paragraphs of literally thousands of articles submitted to this magazine since 1983 have brimmed with the "tides of mediocrity" that seem always poised to inundate us. I've heard tell again and again how our failure to improve our education system has undermined our economic development and has been the moral equivalent of an "act of war" perpetrated by an "unfriendly foreign power. …

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