The problems with our education system are thus broader and deeper than we usually admit. Do we care? Do we really care, in a heartfelt, personal way, what happens to the millions of boys and girls that emerge from high school unable to read simple texts? Do we care about the children who lose confidence because we push them relentlessly from one grade to the next, whether or not they have mastered the material? Does it bother us to think of all the brilliant young minds whose excitement about science or literature fades for lack of encouragement? Do we have the will to finally end our balkanizing battles for control of public education?

If we answer yes to these questions, we must act. More than that, we must take effective action – because with genuine caring comes genuine commitment. It is not enough just to empathize with our children's educational plight. Nor is it enough to jump on the first reform bandwagon that rolls by, hoping it will do some good. If we really care about our kids we must base our reforms on reason and evidence. Unless we make every conceivable effort to get results, we betray our children and reduce our commitment to an exercise in feel-good futility.

These are our kids. Their problems are our problems. We have to build them a better system of education. We must throw open our minds to an honest appraisal of past and present, and to an unconstrained vision of the future.