Joint statement on the 25th anniversary of “A Nation at Risk”

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Publication date: 
April 26 2008 (All day)

WASHINGTON (April 26, 2008) – As we mark the 25th anniversary of “A Nation at Risk,” the spotlight is shining everywhere except where it is most needed. We need a clear-eyed accounting of the progress our schools and students have made over the past 25 years, and we need an honest assessment of the unfinished work required to protect the prospects of our young people and our nation into the future.

Instead of purposeful evaluation and planning, one group of commentators is furiously debating whether the Commission got it right when it claimed that the "tide of mediocrity" was getting “higher” back in 1983, as opposed to merely “high.” Meanwhile, another group argues that without fully and finally eliminating all of the outside-of-school challenges in children's lives, better schools won't make much of a difference.

These arguments distract us from attending to what we can and should do right now for our schools and for the students they serve. Yes, too many of our students are growing up under unconscionable conditions. And yes, we must commit ourselves and our nation to ensuring that no American child suffers under the burdens of poverty or racism. But we cannot allow gross inequities outside our schools to excuse gross inequities within our schools because the facts suggest that poor children and children of color can and do learn more when their schools are better.      

Our schools now serve children with a more challenging array of needs than ever before. Yet virtually every group of those children—white, black, Latino, Asian, poor, rich—is achieving at higher levels in most subjects at most grade levels today than they were 25 years ago. In some cases, the achievement gaps which have plagued this country throughout our history are beginning to narrow. That’s solid evidence that strong and committed educators, unwilling to buy into the myths about what some kids can’t do, can make big differences for students, even in the face of daunting outside-of-school circumstances.

But while we’re doing better, it’s still not good enough. The rest of the world is outpacing us. Despite our gains, U.S. high school students now rank in the bottom quarter among industrialized nations in mathematics and in the bottom half in science. Our students are fleeing the very disciplines that are the foundation of the knowledge economy. 

Even at the college level, where we’ve led the world for so long, our young adults have dropped to ninth place in attainment of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees. The gaps in college-going between black and Latino students and their white peers are wider now than they were 30 years ago. And for the first time in our history, American young adults are less likely to earn college degrees than are their parents.

We can’t afford to be distracted by other issues or satisfied with our progress. We can’t afford to do business as usual. We can’t afford to continue to ignore the fact that, in the great majority of cases, our schools continue to stack the deck against the success of low-income and students of color.    

As Americans we know that education is the best route out of poverty and the surest weapon against racism. But instead of organizing our schools according to our values and the needs of our society, we undermine our most vulnerable students, giving them less of everything that makes for academic success—strong teachers, challenging courses, up-to-date textbooks, functional science labs and college scholarships.   

Yes, our students have to work harder. As parents we need to work harder, too, instilling in our children the importance of persistence and effort. But we must also face the reality that schooling in America is out of sync with our long-held national values as well as with the urgent demands of the 21st century.

We strongly reaffirm the Commission’s original call for higher standards, and the efforts since that time to codify those standards and put them to work in American classrooms.  

Those standards, however, must be for all students.  As a country, we need all students to achieve at the highest levels.  After all, poor and “minority” students together now comprise about half of our young people.

The Commission got it right when it said that “the twin goals of equity and high-quality schooling have profound and practical meaning for our economy and society, and we cannot permit one to yield to the other either in principle or practice.”   

But in 25 years, our country hasn’t gotten this part right.  Not even close.

AVID Center
California State University System
Citizen Schools 
Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights
College Summit
Core Knowledge Foundation
The Council for Opportunity in Education
Democrats for Education Reform
Education Reform Now
The Education Trust
League of United Latin American Citizens
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF)
National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund
The National Coalition of ESEA Title I Parents
National Council of La Raza
The New Teacher Project
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

Individual Supporters:

*The undersigned are signed-on as individuals and not as representatives of the organizations for which they work.

Barbara B. Adderley, Instructional Superintendent, District of Columbia Public Schools
Carol Albritton, Teacher Quality Coordinator, New Jersey Department of Education
Brett Alessi, Managing Director – Boston, Education Pioneers, MA
Kimberly Allen, Deputy Associate Superintendent, School Improvement and Intervention, Arizona Department of Education
Dr. Jim Applegate, Vice President for Academic Affairs, KY Council on Postsecondary Education
Dr. Juan Carlos Araque, Vice President, Community Investments, Orange County United Way
Carol Arjona, Secondary Education Director 
Regina Gilchrist Ash, Director of Instruction, Swain County Schools, North Carolina
Trish Barry-Utzig, Behavior Specialist
Dianne M. Bazell, Ph.D. , Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs , Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education
Dominic Belmonte, President and CEO, Golden Apple Foundation
Patricia P Benson, Director, Center for Excellence in Education
Patti Bippus, High School Principal, AK
Stephan Blanford, Executive Director, White Center Early Learning Initiative
Judy Bowers, Ed.D., School Counselor Consultant
Liz Brewer, School Counselor
David Britt, Retired CEO, Sesame Workshop, Ed Trust Board Member
Susan Brooks, Former Principal, Lockhart Junior High School, TX
Nevin Brown, President, International Partnership for Service-Learning and Leadership, New York
Rita Brusca-Vega, Associate Professor of Special Education, Purdue University Calumet
Julia Bryan, Ph.D., Professor Counselor Education
Raymond W. Bryant, PhD, Superintendent of Schools, Elmira City School District, NY
Dudley Butts, Superintendent, Agua Fria Union High School District, Avondale, Arizona

Jon Butzon, Executive Director, Charleston Education Network
Glenny Lee C. Buquet, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Thomas Calhoun, Asst. Dean, Engineering Advising and Diversity Center, University of Washington  
Susan Carlson, Executive Director, Arizona Business & Education Coalition
Dr. Mya Caruso, High School Math Teacher
Maria Casillas, President, Families in Schools
Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo, Director of Business and Development, Partnerships to Uplift Communities 
Stuart Chen-Hayes, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School Counselor Education Lehman College of the City University of New York, Bronx, NY
Dr. Effie N. Christie, Assistant Professor, Kean University-Department of Educational Leadership 
Roderick G. W. Chu, Chancellor Emeritus, Ohio Board of Regents
Jay Chunn, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, DC
Christine Clark, Ed.D., Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion & Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Nevada, Las Vegas 
Sally Clausen, President, University of Louisiana System

Terri L. Cole, President and CEO, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce

Rose Coleman, Mo Professional Learning Communities, School Resource Specialist

Isabel Mesa Collins, Area 10 Instructional Officer, Chicago Public Schools
M. Diane Cox, PhD, Education Officer, St Louis Public Schools
Saula Cutter, Curriculum Supervisor for Multicultural Studies, Affirmative Action and Desegregation, Hamilton Township Schools

Frances D'Agostino, Math Coach, Scofield Magnet Middle School, CT

Lisa Danielson, MSW/MPA, Project Manager, Special Initiatives, Families In Schools       

Angus Davis, Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education

Dr. Carol S. Dean, Curriculum Coordinator
Jami DeBosch, Administrative Intern, Bellerive Elementary, MO

Shauna Deeter, Secondary School Counseling Intern
Lynn Deutsch Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist, Monterey, CA

H. Mitchell D'Olier, President, Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, Kailua, HI

Billie Donegan, Retired Teacher, School Improvement Coach
Wayne Eastman, South Orange-Maplewood New Jersey Board of Education Member

Michael C. Egan, Assistant Professor of Education, Augustana College
Natalie Elder, Principal, Hardy Elementary School, TN
Brittany Emal, National Director of Pipeline Development, New Leaders for New Schools

Linda Emm, Educational Specialist, Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Penny Engel, Assistant Director for Government and External Relations, American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

June Eressy, Principal, University Park Campus School
Dr. Charles A. Espalin, Director/Professor/Fieldwork Supervisor, School Counseling Program, University of Southern California

Richard/Ricardo Esparza, Principal, Granger High School

Elena Espinoza, SPS Multicultural Liaison

Nadine Finigan, Sr. Research Project Manager, Steppin' Up
Rosalind Barnes Fowler, Public Awareness Director, University System of Georgia

Marc Frazer, Partner, Education First Consulting
Carrie Furedy, Program Administrator, Curriculum and Assessment, AZ

Robert E. Gallagher, Retired Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Niagara Wheatfield Schools

Guillaume Gendre, Vice-principal Neil Armstrong Middle School
Brian Gibson, Assistant Principal, Kyrene de los Cerritos

Robert Gira, Executive Vice-President, National Programs, AVID Center

Barbara Golden, Educational Consultant and Non-attorney advocate
Irwin L. Goldstein, Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University System of Maryland

David Goodman, Student Services Resource Teacher for Guidance, Brevard Public Schools, Fl.
Freddie Gray, Executive Director, African American Achievement Council of Omaha
Cheryl Greene, Ed.D., Principal, Kyrene de la Esperanza and Executive Director, Voices of Color, L.L.C.

Mary Ellen Guest, Campaign Manager, A+ Illinois

Eric Hadley, MAP St. Louis Regional Instructional Facilitator, University of Missouri--St. Louis

Patricia Hamamoto, Superintendent of Education, Honolulu, HI
Brady Haycock, PsyD, Psychology Resident

Richard L. Hayes, Ed.D., Professor and Dean, College of Education, University of South Alabama

Ralph Headlee, Assistant Superintendent, Medical Lake School District
Ronald J Henry, Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Georgia State University

Julie Hernandez, ESL teacher, University City School District

Lizzie Hetzer, Unlocking the Classroom, Blogspot

Becky Crowe Hill, Executive Director, Partners in School Innovation, CA
Mr. Robin Hom, Superintendent, Chinese Christian Schools, CA

Harvey Hoyo, Ed. D., Lead Faculty, School Counseling, National University

Whitney Hoyt, President, Sausalito Marin City School Board, CA

Kevin R. Hughes, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Office of School Improvement 
Tom Huffman, Principal, Verrado High School, Agua Fria School District
Jackie Iloh, Graduate student, University of Maryland, College Park
Holly Irvine, Secondary School Counseling Intern, University of Scranton, Pennsylvania
Bill Jackson, President, GreatSchools
Dr. Robert L. Jarvis, Director of K-12 Outreach and Co-Director, Delaware Valley Minority Student Achievement Consortium; New Jersey Network to Close the Achievement Gap, Penn Center for Educational Leadership
Kathy Jaycox, P-20 Senior Associate, United for Learning: The Hawaii P-20 Initiative
Craig D. Jerald, President, Break the Curve
Cassius O. Johnson, Director, National  & Federal Policy, Jobs for the Future
Susan Jordan, Senior Development Specialist, Portland Public Schools
Alfredo Juarez, Assistant Principal, Eastman Avenue School
Joe Kallas, Area One Instruction Officer, Chicago Public Schools
Jason Kamras, 2005 National Teacher of the Year
William A. Kaplin, Research Professor of Law, The Catholic University of America
Lisa Karmacharya, Ed.D., Executive Director of Federal Programs and Elementary Curriculum, Hattiesburg Public Schools
Lauren Katzman, Associate Professor, Boston University
Rosie E. Kelley, Education Program Specialist, U.S. Dept. of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)
Sarah M. Kern Ph.D., Assistant Professor at The College of New Jersey
Adam Kernan-Schloss, President/CEO, KSA-Plus Communications
Epryl King, M.Ed., Elementary Teacher, President, Raising Achievement in Monroeville and Pitcairn (RAMP)
Gina Kilpela, Teacher Specialist, Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Laura Kohn, Executive Director, New School Foundation
Patricia A. Korn, SEL/Gap Specialist
Deborah Kosyla Edwards, LMSW, Title I School and Community Social Worker
Dan Lairon, Principal, Seven Trees School, Franklin-McKinley School District, San Jose, CA
Kelly Langford, President, Tucson Urban League
Juan Francisco Lara, Ph.D., Assistant Vice Chancellor Emeritus, University of California at Irvine
Dr. Doris Lasiter, Principal
Karen Lattin, Director of Career and Technical Education Agua Fria Union High School District, Arizona
Gerry Lauber, Chief Operating Officer, National Urban Alliance
Nancy R. Lawrence, Ph.D., Educational Researcher
Kathleen F. Lemberger, Principal, Washington Jr. High School
Dr. Cynthia A. Lemmerman, Superintendent Fostoria City Schools, Ohio
Noma LeMoine Ph.D., Director, Los Angeles Unified School District, Closing the Achievement Gap Branch
Colleen Lenihan, Research Analyst, Delta Cost Project
Ruth Litman-Block, Director, Virtual Learning Center, Cooperating School Districts, St. Louis
Frank Livoy, Center for Effective School Practices, Rutgers University
James H. Lockhart, Pres. & CEO, The Making and Education Difference Foundation, Inc.
David C. Long, Attorney
Margot Lowenstein, Development Partnerships Manager, New Leaders for New Schools
Dr. Sara Lundquist, Vice President for Student Services, Santa Ana College
Susanne Malmos, Middle School Teacher
Caterina Leone Mannino, Teacher on Assignment, Project Literacy, Rochester City School District
Marguerite Martinez, Principal, Mark Twain Elementary School, Kansas City, KS
Larry P. Mason, Clark County School District School Trustee, Las Vegas Nevada; VP for Diversity/Inclusion, College of Southern Nevada
Dr. Ketrin Saud Maxwell
Donald e McBrien Ph.D,  Associate faculty, Johns Hopkins Univ., Loyola College, Md. Barbara McCloud, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Leadership Programs, Institute for Educational Leadership
Roger McCloughan, New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Career and Technical Education
Mary McConnell, School Improvement Facilitator/Former Principal
Gretchen L. McDowell, Consultant, State Legislation, Illinois PTA
Deandra McKinney, Teacher, Coach; Special Education, Case Manager, Queens NY
Dr. Marge McMackin, Distinguished Educator Program, Pennsylvania Department of Education
Kate McNamee, English Teacher, Central High School, MD.
Dorothy J. Minear, Interim Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, Board of Governors - State University System of Florida
Mark A Mitrovich PhD, Chief Academic Officer,
Katie Moeller, School Improvement Facilitator, Bureau of School Improvement, Florida Department of Education
Pierre Morgan, Chaplain, Star Academy; Region 3 Board Representative, NCT1C1P
Melissa J. Murphy, University of California at Berkeley Grad Student in Public Health and Social Welfare
Steven F. Murray, Chancellor , Phillips Community College, University of Arkansas
Timothy M. Murrell, Supervisor, Technical Programs, St. Louis Public Schools
Rita Leslie Navarrette, Doctoral Student – Educational Psychology, Catholic University  
Karen Nelson, Director of Academic Foundation Initiatives, University of Texas System
Sally Newell, Secondary Director for Curriculum and Instruction Center School District
Leonora Noble, School Improvement Facilitator/Retired Principal, WA
Ann O'Bryan, State Associate in Education Improvement Services
Tanya M. Odom, Ed.M., Senior Global Diversity and Inclusion Consultant
Arturo Pacheco, Professor of Education, EdTrust Board Member
Norma Pacheco, Director of Business Services, Agua Fria Union High School District
Rebecca Parker, PhD, Consultant, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
Marcela Parra, Ph.D, Assistant Director, West Regional Equity Network
Rosanna Urban Parra, Volunteer Child Advocate in the Houston ISD school system
Nancy Parris, Clinical Social Worker
Elizabeth Parry, Engineer, Project Director, Recognizing Accelerated Math Potential in Underrepresented People (RAMP-UP)
Kathy Payne, Senior Director- Education Leadership, State Farm Insurance
Roberta Peck, Director of Prekindergarten Planning
Mary Ann Petrich, High School Literacy Lead, Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools
Bernard P. Pierorazio, Superintendent, Yonkers Public Schools
Heidi Pierovich, Accountability Coach, Action Learning Systems, Inc., CA
Debbie Pina, Counseling, Estrella Mountain Community College
Linda Powell-McMillan, National Director of Program Development, AVID Center
Brian T. Prescott, Senior Research Analyst, Public Policy and Research
Emily Kalejs Qazilbash, Doctoral student, Harvard Graduate School of Education, MA
Beth Rae, Literacy Coach
E. Vance Randall, Ph.D., Professor of Education Policy, Department of Educational Leadership and Foundations, Brigham Young University
Sanjiv Rao, Director, Policy and Advocacy Leadership Initiative, Teach For America
Carolyn Reynolds, Member, National Coalition of ESEA Title I Parents Board of Directors--Region III
Patrick R. Riccards, Author, Eduflack, President, Exemplar Strategic Communications
William F. Roberts IV, Principal, Los Altos High School
Martha Ortiz Robertson, Math Program Coordinator 7-12, Washoe County School District, Reno NV
Stephanie G. Robinson, Ph. D., Education Advocate
Paul F. Ruiz, PhD, Senior Director, P-16/Outreach, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
Adama Sallu, MSW, School Social Worker, Kyrene Centennial Middle School
Maureen Santella, Director of Special Education, New York, NY
Janet M. Schilk, Ph.D., Director, Office of Educational Reform, Ohio Department of Education
Cynthia B. Schmeiser, President and COO, ACT Education Division
Helen Schotanus, Consultant, Primary Education/Reading
Robert F Sexton, Executive Director, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, EdTrust Board Member
Arthur D. Sheekey, Project Director, CNAC
James P. Shoffner, Ph.D.,  Past Chair, Chicago Section, American Chemical Society
Kevin Simpson, Global Educational Consultant, KDSL - Know.Do.Serve.Learn
Graciela Slesaransky-Poe, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Special Education; Director, Arcadia Annual Inclusion Institute
Gail Smartt, Principal, Mark Twain Elementary
Dr. Johnetta E. Smith, Supervisor of Parent Services, Title I Department, MD
Kevin Smith, School Counselor, KY
Roslyn J. Smith, Ph.D., President, Treme Charter School Association, New Orleans, LA
Jose J. Soto, JD, Vice President for AA/Equity/Diversity, Southeast Community College
Dr. Craig Spinks, Retired Special Education Teacher
Laurence B. Stanton, Strategy and Planning Officer, Chicago Public Schools
Willie G. Stevens, Ph.D., Home School Coordinator
Dorothy S. Strang, Teacher, Administrator (retired), Diversity Consultant, MI/RI
Robbin Stratton, High School Counselor, Norfolk,VA
Denise Swanger, Ph.D., Bayless High School Principal
Patricia S. Tate, Ph.D., Director, Office of Laboratory Experiences, George Washington University
Rhonda Taylor, Assistant Principal, Goodman Middle School
Yanil Terón, Executive Director, Connecticut Puerto Rican Forum, Inc
Claudia Thompson, Ed.D, Assistant Superintendent / Learning and Teaching, Peninsula School District
Sharon S. Thorstensen, Title I IRT, Green Holly Elementary School
Casey Thran, Master's Student, Professional School Counseling, U. of Scranton
Mitch Torina, School Counselor
Danielle Torres, Ph.D, Assistant Professor
Jose M. Torres, Ph.D., Area Instruction Officer, Area 14, Chicago Public Schools
Ursula Tracy, Secondary School Counselor
Jerry Trusty, Professor of Counselor Education, Penn State University
Clem O. Ukaoma, High School Principal
Andrew J. Van Camp II, Professor
Eugenio Vazquez, Director of ELL & Migrant Education, Agua Fria Union High School District
Hortencia Vega, Coordinator for Post-Secondary Guidance & Counseling Programs, Spring Branch ISD, Houston, Texas 
Jennifer Vranek, Founding Partner, Education First Consulting
Juanita B. Wade, DC Initiatives Program Manager, Fannie Mae
Karen Waldon, Assistant Superintendent for Leadership Services, Henry County Schools, McDonough, GA
Lisa Walenceus, Executive Director, Learning Generation Initiative, IN
Marina Ballantyne Walne, Ph.D., Executive Director, Institute for Public School Initiatives, University of Texas System
Charles C. Ward, Principal, McKenney Intermediate School, Marysville, CA
Alicia Martin Warren, Educator and graduate student in Counseling Education
Abigail Wentworth, Director, Selection Training, Teach For America
Terri White, Educational Consultant, TWhite & Associates
Belinda J. Wilkerson, Counselor-in-Residence
Roger Wilkins, Professor of History, George Mason University, EdTrust Board Member
Creg E. Williams Ed.D., Superintendent, Thornton Fractional Twp. High School District 215
Gerald R Williams, Professional Development Coordinator, Placer County Office of Education, CA
Stephen Williams, College Counselor, Eagle Rock High School
Lorraine Wise, National Parent Involvement Expert, U.S. Department of Education/Title I
Corliss D. Wood, Administrator, Office of the Dean, Partnerships for Education-Administrator, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Dr. Michelle Woodfork, Literacy Coach, Department of Defense Schools, Korea District
Susan K. Woodruff, Professional Developer, University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning
Brooke L. Young, Grant Writer
Pamela Yoder, Instructional Coach
Ernest Zamora, Ph.D., Education Consultant, Austin, Texas

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