By any measure, today's educational system is a failed monopoly. That it is failing large numbers of students is beyond dispute – one quarter do not graduate and another quarter are so poorly prepared academically that they are not ready for work or post-secondary education.
– David P. Kearns, Author, Winning the Brain Race
It is clear that something is fundamentally wrong with the educational system in the United States. Television, newspapers, and newsmagazines have all given notice to the fact that we have, in fact, reached an educational crisis.
In the landmark report by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, entitled A Nation At Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform, the commission warns in foreboding language:
The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur – others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.
If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
The commission examined the courses high school students took in 1964-69 compared with course patterns in 1976-81. From the findings they concluded that "secondary school curriculums have been homogenized, diluted, and diffused to the point that they no longer have a central purpose." They found that a full 25 percent of high school credits were earned in "physical and health education, work experience outside the school, remedial English and mathematics, and personal service and development courses, such as training for adulthood and marriage."