A new study by a panel led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former chancellor of New York City’s school system Joel Klein warns that education is becoming a matter of national security.
Not only does the military face shortages of foreign language speakers and skilled science, defense and aerospace workers, but, according to the report, 30% of high school graduates do not perform well enough on aptitude tests to serve in the military at all. A startling 75% of young adults do not qualify because they are physically unfit, have criminal records or have inadequate levels of education.
In order to improve schools and maintain our national security as baby boomers are increasingly replaced by younger generations of workers, the panel recommends adopting core standards for education, improving school choice for students (particularly those in poor areas), and conducting federal audits to monitor schools’ progress.
All good strategies, but a critical component is missing — the voice of the student. More outreach is necessary to understand today’s students, including what motivates them and what they need to succeed. When traditional methods no longer work, we must try new ones.
Who better to help us understand how students learn than the students themselves? Only by engaging in these critical conversations and using the feedback to effect real change can we ensure that we prepare our students to live safe and successful lives.