A Nation at Risk & Education Alternatives

A Nation at Risk & Education Alternatives

Education September 01, 2012 / By THNKR
A Nation at Risk & Education Alternatives
SYNOPSIS

In 1983, A Nation at Risk created a national fear about the adequacy of the education system. Now, almost thirty years later, parents across the country are seeking alternative options to the traditional system for their children.

In 1983, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform was published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, under the Reagan Administration. The result of two years of research, A Nation at Risk reported academic underachievement on both the national and international level. It garnered a lot of attention after being published and raised a lot of concerns about the effectiveness of the educational system in the United States and contributed to a growing national fear that the educational system was inadequate.

Almost thirty years later, these concerns remain and the debate is as heated as ever. What changes can be made to effectively deal with these concerns? Is the education system failing the country’s youth? What is the long-term effect on the country as a whole if children are not adequately educated?

While national standards have changed and major legislation has been passed since 1983 (No Child Left Behind), this is not an issue that is going to go away any time soon.

Many parents are taking education into their own hands and choosing to homeschool their children. Take child prodigy and college student Tanishq Abraham, for example. The THNKR team filmed with him and his family in the spring. While his situation is unique, he represents a growing trend of parents trying homeschooling in lieu of traditional schooling. Between 1999 and 2007, the Department of Education reports a 74% increase in children being home schooled.

Difficult economic times have resulted budget cuts to already limited special education programs, including talented and gifted programs. Art, music, and sports programs have also suffered. Many districts no longer have the resources to offer the flexibility or enrichment opportunities that should be available to students.

While it may not be an option for everyone, Tanishq has benefited immensely. He is able to learn at his own pace, spend more time on the things that interest him, and attend college courses at the local community college. He particularly enjoys astronomy and physics and had a lot to say when THNKR had a chance to up with him about the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, a subject he wouldn’t have been able to devote time to in the traditional system.

Not all parents who are dissatisfied with the education system have given up their day jobs to stay home. Many parents are enrolling their children in charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, extracurricular programs, Internet courses, and pre-college programs to enhance their child’s educational experience.

With the upcoming election, education reform is definitely a hot topic. Both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are committed to reforming No Child Left Behind. Many opponents of NCLB argue it narrows school curriculums to focus on tested subjects due to rigorous federal standards meant to hold states and schools accountable for their students’ education and inhibits students from learning to think critically.

President Barack Obama has already enacted several policies that reform the NCLB. He has created $500 million in grants for states dedicated to reforming their curriculums. He has initiated a waiver program to relieve some of the pressure NCLB incurs and allow these states some flexibility. In return, these states must improve school accountability, raise student achievement standards and increase teacher effectiveness. Romney is similarly interested in having states control the standards to which their schools are held, as opposed to the federal mandates currently in place.

No matter what camp you are in, it’s easy to see that the current education system needs work. With such a critical issue on the table with such a long and complex history, it’s not likely to be a quick fix, or even a singular one.

Watch Tanishq explain the Higgs boson particle on THNKR.

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