From: Yong Zhao » Blog Archive » A Nation At Risk: Edited by Yong Zhao. (n.d.). Yong Zhao. Retrieved March 11, 2011, from http://zhaolearning.com/2011/03/10/a-nation-at-risk-edited-by-yong-zhao/
Indicators of the Risk
The educational dimensions of the risk before us have been amply documented in materials read by this editor. For example:
the first time, research shows American creativity is declining. Since
1990, Americans’ creativity scores have been on the decline
significantly and most seriously among young children (from kindergarten
through sixth grade).
a result of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), a significant number of
schools in America have narrowed their curriculum by cutting arts,
music, physical education, social studies, science, recess, or lunch.
“Forty-four percent of all districts nationwide have added time for
English language arts and/or math, at the expense of social studies,
science, art and music, physical education, recess, or lunch.”
- Meanwhile, our competitors such as China and Singapore
have been decreasing their instructional time for math and increasing
time for creativity, critical thinking, arts, physical education. For
example, since 1999 China has decreased total instructional hours by 380
for grades 1 through 6, reduced math instruction by 140 hours and added
156 instructional hours for physical education.
and dishonest behaviors have become rampant in American education.
Teachers, school administrators, and students have been forced to engage
in all sorts of cheating to raise test scores and state governments
lower standards to avoid penalties.
spends $1.1 billion dollars per year testing their children under NCLB
while many schools have to cut short instructional hours and or lay off
teachers due to budget cuts.
2004–2005, Wisconsin students spent a total of about 1.4 million hours
taking state tests; with full implementation of NCLB testing, that
number will more than double, to 2.9 million. These figures do not
include the time spent distributing and collecting materials, taking
practice tests, giving instructions, and addressing other logistics of
- American teachers’ morale has reached a crisis level. Over a quarter of teachers leave the profession within the first three years and nearly half leave within the first five.
- Teacher unions, the last organized line of defense for public education, are being threatened across the nation.
the governments continue to impose policies that connect teacher
evaluation with student test scores although research has clearly shown
that such policies do not improve student learning, even measured by
- American education has become a nationalized standardized
education system. Locally democratically elected school boards have been
rendered bureaucratic assistants of the state and federal government to
enforce implementation of state and federal mandates rather than
guarding the education of their children.
than 20% of American students are enrolled in a foreign language course
while all Chinese students are required to study a foreign language
beginning from third grade at the latest.
- Only 11 percent of twelfth graders nationwide demonstrated proficiency in U.S. history.
than 80 percent of New York City eighth graders did not meet the state
standards in social studies in 2004. Moreover, the number of students
meeting the social studies standards has decreased by almost 20
percentage points since 2002.
percent of college-bound high school students could not name the ocean
between California and Asia. 80 percent of young Americans (ages 18 to
24) did not know that India is the world’s largest democracy; 37 percent
could not locate China on a map of Asia and the Middle East.
average number of languages spoken by American business executives is
1.5, compared with an average of 3.9 languages spoken by business
executives in the Netherlands.
and military leaders complain about the lack of international and cross
cultural skills of American graduates. “A 2002 survey of large U.S.
corporations found that nearly 30 percent of the companies believed they
had failed to exploit fully their international business opportunities
due to insufficient personnel with international skills. The
consequences of insufficient culturally competent workers, as identified
by the firms, included: missed marketing or business opportunities;
failure to recognize important shifts in host country policies toward
foreign-owned corporations; failure to anticipate the needs of
international customers; and failure to take full advantage of expertise
available or technological advances occurring abroad. Almost 80 percent
of the business leaders surveyed expected their overall business to
increase notably if they had more internationally competent employees on
Time to Deschool
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Money is an issue, and it sadly it seems like it will always be the issue. If someone had told me that "America spends $1.1 billion dollars per year testing their children" I probably wouldn't have believed it, that is a crazy amount of money! And what does this testing truly do? Well for me, it made me hate tests, which lead to test anxiety. I didn't learn anything from taking these tests, instead my teachers only taught me what was on the tests. My mom is a Principal and she is struggling to get the district to allow her to start up a Pre-K at the school. The district says they do not have the funding right now for a Pre-K! I find that to be a sad excuse, no funding for a child's education? Instead we are spending "$1.1 billion dollars" on testing, not on Pre-K programs! Those are definitely some scary facts.