Yong Zhao Weighs in on “A Nation at Risk”

I have to say that I couldn’t agree more with the thoughts of Yong Zhao in his assessment of the real risks for American Education. His thoughts come just in advance of the anniversary of the infamous Nation at Risk Report that was first published in 1983.

According to Zhao, the goals and aspirations in the 1983 report were well thought out, but in his estimation the report missed the mark with the indicators of risk–namely student test scores which he argues have been proven to be largely irrelevant. He argues that mediocre educational performance isn’t the issue; rather it is insane policies that:

* threaten democracy,
*turn American children into robotic test takers,
*value testing over teaching and
*scapegoat teachers

In his rewrite of the original document, Zhao points to the loss of creativity (especially among young children), narrowing of the curriculum, and loss of instructional time for testing as some of the greatest threats to our nation. Although not stated by Zhao, I suspect he would agree that the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Legislation while a well-intended law, exasperated these issues. Finally, he notes that schools are:

“routinely called on to provide solutions to personal, social, and political problems that the home and other institutions either will not or cannot resolve. We must understand that these demands on our schools and colleges often exact an educational cost as well as a financial one.”

I highly encourage readers to read Zhao’s full re-write of the Nation at Risk report. It is thought-provoking especially in light of the fact that the NCLB will expire in 2014.

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About Deb

I am a lifelong educator with experience in special education, counseling and staff development. Special interests outside of my chosen career field include entrepreneurship, investing and financial literacy.
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