Is the decline of American schools putting national security at risk?
March 21st, 2012
03:55 PM ET

Is the decline of American schools putting national security at risk?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

When you think about some of the greatest dangers facing this country's national security - al Qaeda, the Taliban, a ticking time bomb in Iran probably all come to mind.

But one that might not come to mind at first is our schools.

Public education is failing to do its job of educating our children, and that poses a grave danger to the security of our country long-term.

An independent task force launched by the Council on Foreign Relations is warning the U.S. education system is barreling toward "a national security crisis."

The chairs of the report - former New York City school system chancellor Joel Klein and Stanford professor Condoleezza Rice - former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush - say education failures pose several threats to our national security.

They include economic growth and competitiveness, U.S. physical safety and intellectual property.

Our students are not being prepared for the global work force.

The report highlights a Defense Department statistic that 75% of American youth don't qualify for the armed forces because of a lack of a high school diploma, obesity or a criminal record.

Among those who do qualify, 30% don't pass the military's aptitude test.

If we don't educate our young people so they can compete, we are doomed.

The task force recommends a "national security readiness audit" as one way to hold schools accountable.

Not everyone agrees with the report, including some members of the task force itself.

But it's no secret the quality of our public education has been in decline for quite some time.

Here’s my question to you: Is the decline of American schools putting national security at risk?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

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Filed under: Education
soundoff (136 Responses)
  1. jk in MN

    I would say it is a big threat. It has looked to me for some time that the right wing billionaires like the Koch brosthers) who have been pumping huge piles of campaign dollars into the state and federal elections would prefer the voters to be less educated and gullible – like sheep and simply buy all the garbage they pump out in their negative ads. An Oligarchy or Theocracy here scares me more than Iran, Jack. Some of the state laws passed in 2011 and 2012 should be a wake up call to the middle of the electorate.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Elizabeth From Toronto

    Absolutely. Intelligent savvy people create smart ways to live and sell products in addition to keeping local environments that they live in free of junk. The ability to read and understand what's on a screen or a piece of paper is crucial and lets not forget that to write is also important! The US is resting on its laurels, it needs to get off and get going!

    March 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  3. Russ in PA

    The failure is in believing that a state-monopolized education system can benefit our society in the first place. Get the federal government out of education, and allow the free market to establish competitive schools and universitites. After all, education flourished in America prior to the establishment of the Department of Education, which was established in 1979. Does anyone think that education is better now than when many of us went to school?

    Ron Paul in 2012...

    March 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  4. Pete in Georgia

    Jack, we could spend "Days" here illustrating the colossal, dismal failure of the American education system, all due to government and unions, the two "poisons" of the past 45 years in America. The sad and pathetic reality is that approx. 45-50% of America continues to believe in that same toxic and lethal idology to this day.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  5. Annie, Atlanta

    No, it's a domestic one. First you dumb-down the populace, then use fear to stay in power, like Republicans do now. I see a GOP future utopia, where we all work for the "company," live in barracks, are provided no wages, health care nor nutritious meals (think pink slime), have no rights to come and go at will (like Apple in China), and are forced to worship in company churches. When we keel over dead from lack of basic health care and nutrition, our bodies are placed in re-vamped coal burning facilities, and we're burned to provide energy for the more deserving, the wealthy and powerful. Active imagination or a peek inside GOP candidates' plans for our future? You decide.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  6. Cameron

    I would have to say yes it is. When the average student is either dropping out because he feels school is doing him no good or the fact they can't afford it even with government funding is sad day for America. If our children are our future why aren't we making sure they are better prepared for the world.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  7. bonnie from NJ

    It certainly is, as it is a threat to everything this nation is (used to be?). National security must be handled by intelligent, level headed people. A good education would help so many other problems we have in this country such as poverty and crime. I however, am at a complete loss as to what I think should change in order to achieve this for all of our citizens. I know in my state they throw an enormous amount of money at poor school districts and it has not helped, these children are still not getting a quality education.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  8. Bill of New Mexico

    A nation's education defines how advanced that nation's weapons are.

    Superior education is required for superior weapons.

    The US' failure in education will be translating into a failure in weapons in a generation or two.

    But with its increasing debt, the US needs to be selling aircraft carriers–not making them.

    Watch the Aircraft Carrier Gerald Ford! It will be a dud.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  9. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    Anything that would ultimately weaken or compromise the great country's principles based in Freedom, Liberty for All and Democracy, not to mention the U. S's role and position a global leader should be viewed as a national security threat. A failure by the United States in any of the following should be viewed as a threat to our national security and the American way of life: (1) A strong National Defense; (2) A world leader in education excellence; (3) A perennial robust National Economy; (4) Equal Justice to all citizens; (5) An equitable Tax system; and (6) The right and ability of all of our citizens to pursue happiness.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  10. tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    Absolutely. Once the last American capable of operating computer systems dies, we will have to apply to India for annexation. The upside to that is at last we will have a true democracy and be rid of the electoral college. Namaste, Sri Cafferty.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  11. Richard Texas

    Jack economic standards do make a difference in the direction we take in life. A person with little or no education must settle for lower paid employment doing menial jobs simply because the higher paying jobs require a formal education. The cost of education is rapidly rising and the quality of it is steadily declining. The declining learning curve is in direct correlation to the amount of money spent.

    March 21, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  12. Paul From Austin Texas

    No it will just increase the pool of the all volunter Military. Sad really sad.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  13. kim smith, Dodge City, Ks.

    An ignorant, poorly educated populace is a breeding ground for tyranny. The security threat is from within, and exhibit "A" for this threat is the Republican Party. "College is for snobs", "I'm not worried about the poor", and countless other statements, give us great insight into the intentions of conservatives. Keep'em barefoot and pregnant, out of school, hungry and poor, and they will be easier to control and exploit. When your local and state politicians kill funding for the arts, that is the first step in eliminating the creative thought process. The one thing that conservatives fear most is a free-thinking and creative society, because intelligence means questioning. And questions require answers. When an oath is taken to defend the Constitution, it is to defend from enemies both foreign and domestic. So, for me, anybody that believes that college is for snobs, is a serious national security threat.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
  14. Regina Sanders

    Of course it is China is just waiting out there for us to hit the bottom of stupidy and then they will march right in and take over- Stupid is as stupid does and every day our congress and leaders show us how & you can't fix stupid-we just have to get rid of them, no matter how much money they have.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  15. Karl in Flint, MI

    My grandma used to have a phrase that went, "They may have graduated but they sure aren't educated". I'd say that not only applies to many current graduates of our failed schools but also many of our politicians with fine educations. We can have the finest military in the world, but if our schools are substandard, and they are, we are fighting a losing battle in the real world. Brains wins over brawn every time, and we are losing.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  16. Ash

    It's almost certainly a threat. Where do we stand when we lack the intelligent workforce to lead us through new break throughs in science & technology? There is also the concern of the "dumbing down" of our general public who too quickly believe anything said off hand by politicians or on the news with little to no fact checking put in place. We're an entertainment society and it'll be the end of us if we don't make some changes on a national level.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  17. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    Absolutely. Education is the key to survival both personally and nationally. Education is a lifelong process. K thru 12 is where we not only learn to read an learn basic math skills but where we also learn how to learn. People who have not learned how to learn can't compete or keep up in a rapidly changing world and society.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  18. Richard Texas

    A good education is essential in order to do better in life both socially and economically.. We are comprised of haves and have not's. There have always been people who posses more then others but the divide is growing farther and farther apart and that builds resentment. People that resent other people for having more become frustrated and then blame everyone else for what they are not. The next step is for that person to take action against those they perceive to have more. If you get a group of people that think this way you begin to have the perfect set up for a terrorist cell.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  19. Tom in Desoto, TX

    The education system has been put on the back burner a number of presidents ago. Rick Perry wasn't aware there were nine Supreme Court justices and he wanted to be in charge of National Security and wanted to abolish the Department of Education. That is a glaring failure. I would imagine there are a number of security employees who have minimal education. Unfortunately, it's not just national security that becomes a threat due to lack of education but our entire society. Some are more interested in supplying bombs instead of books.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  20. Loren

    Seeing as how I've been hearing about the decline of American schools for the past forty years or so, I'm surprised that we are able to get up in the morning and get dressed. Yes, there are some schools that are failing the students, but there are many more so that are providing our children with appealing educational opportunities that weren't available to me as a child. While we need to continue raising the quality of education in all schools, I see the glass as more than half full, and the sky not falling.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  21. Brian, San Diego

    It puts everything at risk. We're already seeing the consequences of uneducated voters and the people they elect. Now imagine that same level of knowledge applied to everything we do.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  22. Michael Bindner, Alexandria VA

    Iowa's schools are not declining. Virginia's schools are not declining. On the whole, the number of educated children coming out of Europe as a whole is increasing – because Europe is experiencing population loss, as is Japan. If you want to use the USA as an analytic unit, compare it to the EU as a whole. Hong Kong should be included as part of China as a whole. If you want to use Sweeden, Hong Kong and Ireland as individual entities, then compare them with individuals states. Too much junk food and caffeinated sugary drink consumption is a much bigger issue for our national security than is poor education. Indeed, its is probably the case that jittery fat kids can't learn very well.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  23. Stephen Merritt

    Yes, in precisely the same way that I'm related to Kevin Bacon, and in the same way that the NRA killed Trayvon Martin (they backed the "Stand Your Ground" law). I question the premise of the question, which is that our national security is at risk at all, much less the notion that poor academic performance has anything to do with this at all.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  24. Jenna Roseville CA

    Is the decline of American schools putting national security at risk?

    Of course it is Jack.

    While developing nations value education, pay teachers well and expect their children to make the grades we, the so called Super Power, could care less about our children.

    Conservative whine that Unions are to blame when in fact it has nothing to do with Unions and more about how education has been DEFUNDED since Reagan.

    We expect our teachers to teach in antiquated text books, in freezing or hot class rooms, in crumbling buildings, and kids who are undisciplined and we expect them to work miracles.

    Sorry but no cigar.

    We are creating a generation that would be LUCKY to be the workers for the likes of CHINA in the future. We are the ones that are harming our children and our nation for generations to come.

    All those Pro Life folks better put up or shut up! These are the children BORN that need us to support them!

    Roseville CA

    March 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  25. John from Alabama

    Jack: The problem of public education is well documented. A professor at my old unversity once stated get the teachers and parents on the same sheet of music and the student will follow. The key formula is: Teacher+Parents+Students= Better Educated Citizens. It may sound simple, but it takes faith, hope, love, and money to work. The national defense and national security have been the goal of America since 1607, but many educators do not want to educate young people to die in war or die in the mind, because of war.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  26. Doug Ericson

    Depnds on which schools you are talking about. If you are talking about Military Schools I would say yes. We have about One thousand Generals in our Military. As a group, they have the tactical ability of a fith grade bully. 10 years in the most backward country on earth, and our Military can't whip a rag tag band of sand gypsies. 10 years in Iraq and nothing, No win, no gain, no nothing, This group of F troopers can't handle any country bigger than Grannada. The French and British Pilots did the bulk of the work in Libya so don't count that one. We already have the best defense any country could have. Who would want us. So yes, we need new Military Schools. Ones that will teach modern tactical warfare, so that if we had to win one we could. If it wasn't for the Drones, we would have nothing to show for the last 60 years, and God only knows how many trillions of dollars wasted. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  27. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Hi Jack, thanks for bring this up, it's about time. Yes, this is a very major issue and unfortunately we probably will ignore it until it's too late. Most kids today don't want to go to school which to me starts at home and in schools that have teachers who aren't qualified. We want to cut taxes, teachers and have kids go fewer days instead of doing the right thing.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  28. Jason Kelley, Appleton, WI.

    It doesn't put National Security at risk but it IS embarassing.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  29. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Sure this is a major issue to National Security but we need to fight more wars and spend trillions of dollars on killing people instead of sending them to good schools. Many schools are nothing more than a place to send the kids while the parents both work to pay the bills.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  30. diridi

    there are lot of Indians in here with good diplomas from India, why don't we hire them. They know how to teach. I know a wonderful substitute from India, an excellent teacher. We can not hire them. Stupid concept stupid procedure. Hire good ones. American colleges are getting greedy. Hire a good teacher, solves this problem. Either Chinese, or Indian.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  31. Larry Feierstein-Denver

    Schools face an ignorance crisis. Noone is learning, noone is teaching and we are like a third world country when it comes to our education system. What a shame.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  32. Jim Rousch, Mission Viejo, CA

    Where would we have been without a stellar public education system during the space race? Nowhere near the moon, that's for sure.

    Not only do we need to fund education programs, but we also need to adequately fund after school programs from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Meanwhile, the Republicans just want to build more prisons.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  33. Paul - Portland, Oregon

    No, but it makes for a snappy sound-bite in a Republican presidential-nomination-race gone crazy. You can pretty much plug anything in front of "... is putting national security at risk" and persuade some of the people all of the time. ... Raising taxes / Lax contraceptive practises / Expecting young people to go on to college... is putting national security at risk. See what I mean? ... In reality, fighting expensive losing wars is what is putting national security at risk.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  34. james in greenville nc

    The students who want to learn are indeed learning. The students who are there to be entertained by the teacher are not. Of course it is the teachers' fault that the student have no interest in learning. Now we send our jobs overseas. But soon they will come back as the boss. Our schools are a reflection of our liberal no-fault society. Surely it is not our students so it must be the schools.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  35. stevegee


    The decline in American schools is putting much more than our national security at risk. It puts our entire way of life at risk. Imagine a whole generation of uneducated, unmotivated, underclass citizens. Never understanding freedom and liberty and the rewards it can reap. Forever living in hardship, and expecting handouts. Welcome to Obama's United States of Fair Share.

    Steve in Philadelphia

    March 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  36. calaurore9

    Yes, and Teachers' Unions are the culprits. Pay for performance like every other profession. If you pay them based solely on seniority, they will just take up space for as long as possible. Not all, but many.

    C in Ma

    March 21, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  37. Mack from Michigan

    I dont think it's fair Jack to lay all the blame for the dumbing down of American youth at the doorstep of the school system. Our society parades toddler girls across stages in Pageants dressed and made up to look like hookers. No talent,foul mouthed "reality stars" to dumb to wear panties are presented as role models to teenage girls. Real life is being replaced by the new "virtual" life kids live today with all their social media sites, and studying has become obsolete with the instant access answer any question with one touch computors every school has. How can we expect our youth to develop any imagination or cognittive thinking ability when the first thing most of them actually learn is how to turn on the remote to access 200 and some television channels by theirselves before ma and dad are even out of bed in the morning. Yes ignorance threatens america but it's wrong to lay all that on the school system.

    March 21, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  38. Gary in San Jose, California

    As the proud parent of a Marine I've seen it first hand. Sure their work is demanding but the percentage of our population willing and able to do the job is alarmingly low. Our family is fortunate to have a good community with a good school system so when my son expressed interest in the Corp I think they called the house every day until he joined. Military service, unfortunately, is rare with his peer group because they have many attractive options in a less competitive environment. To correct this imbalance we need to have strong schools everywhere not just select communities.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  39. Paul - North Carolina

    Yes, but the threat is far greater from the inside. We've already seen it in the high unemployment rate, gang and drug violence and the rise of the Tea Party. Millions of our young people never finish high school or don't have employable skills when they do. Without prospects for meaningful employment they drift into drug use and crime or become followers of the purveyors of hate and bigotry on talk radio. Then they become radicalized and vote accordingly. Almost every night on the evening news we see videos from the Middle East showing throngs of people rioting, burning effigies and chanting inane slogans. If we don't change our approach to education those videos will soon be coming from America.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  40. Jim Rousch, Mission Viejo, CA

    We are living the consequences of No Child Left Behind.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  41. Conor in Chicago

    There are two main reasons our education system is so screwed up to the point of a national security crisis. The first is that teachers essentially have no power and fear for their jobs all damn day. If they challenge students they are told they are being unfair to them-even though challenging students is EXACTLY what they are supposed to do. All it takes is one upset mother at a parent/teacher conference to complain about how her student isn’t keeping up with the class to force a teacher to dumb it all down just so they can keep their job-lest that parent goes to the principle to complain. The second, is that teachers make almost no money now. You’re average first year teacher makes around $30K a year to start. Even after 5 years teaching their lucky if they are at $45K. How do you expect to get quality teachers in the classroom when the pay is terrible and the work is that hard? Hell, I was going to go back to school and get my master’s in education as I had always wanted to be a teacher. Know why I’m not going to do it? Because I’d go back to school and get another $15K in debt just to make half of what I make now-if I even find a job when I graduate. That, more than anything, demonstrates a ground level reason as to why we have a crisis on our hands. You’re not going to have quality education when you pay teachers nothing and don’t allow them to teach. Period.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  42. Jeff In Minnesota

    We need to change our education system so that we produce people that will be the new workforce. We need to adopt a more European approach to education where, around 8th or 9th grade, students are tested and those with certain scores are sent off to prepare for college or university and others are sent off to learn vocational skills such as computerized manufacturing, construction, plumbing or electrician. No dropping out at 16, you complete your education. We need to make sure that everyone obtains a set of skills useful for an occupation. Flipping burgers is a way to pay for an education, but it should never be considered a career.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  43. Dave, Orlando, FL

    Ms. Rice is hardly an authority on national security, since she eagerly pursued the policies of her idiot boss by irresponsibly and recklessly invading a sovereign country for no good reason. And that, as we know, has severely damaged our national security. But even a fool like that has to be right once in a while by default. We are raising a crop of people who do not measure up intellectually or scholastically. While you and I may be long gone, our children, and theirs, will suffer the consequences when the perfect storm of low information, low intellect and the rest of the rising powers pass us by while they are obsessing with their iGame devices as they walk off the cliff.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  44. Pete in Florida

    Of course it is, but which is more important, educating our children, or pretending to reduce our debt and deficit while maintaining tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy? Obviously it's the latter.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  45. Greg Cox of Bremerton, WA

    The inability of our schools to produce quality education is probably not an immediate threat to our National Security. In fact, the term 'threat to our national security" seems to be the catch-word for anyone in Washington, DC who wants to dump more money into the system. Money isn't the answer here. Our schools are "broke" for a variety of reasons...teachers' unions protecting poor teachers, promoting all students to the next grade level even when they aren't ready or lack the prerequisite skills to advance (we used to fail students, remember!, who didn't produce), less academic classroom time (you know, early release days, teacher collaboration days and a school year with too many vacations, not to mentioin a 'dumbed-down' expectation so "no student is left behind". Well, we are behind and we'll stay behind because those who can make a difference can't get a voice with those who believe "all students can succeed" and all students need to move ahead to the next grade level after their 180-day seat time accrues. It's a mess, Jack!

    March 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  46. Jim, Denver CO


    It poses the risk of economic capabilities mainly. We still have some of the best Universities in the world, but getting kids ready for that level and being able to afford tuition is the fundamental problem. In spite of what some legislator's say we need to put more money into public K-12 education for better teachers and facilities.
    There also needs to be an effort by parents to help their kids gain the education needed to succeed. This needs to be a team effort by everyone, and the funding needs to be there for public schools.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  47. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Jack: I wouldn't go that far with that statement--but it is surely putting the future of American on "hold."

    March 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  48. Brad, Portland, OR

    The Republicans don't want to spend any money on education, at any level of government. At the Federal level, they want to eliminate the Department of Education, and at the state and local level, they want to cut taxes and move the remaining funding from public schools to private schools in the form of vouchers.

    Vouchers are touted as a way to give parents choice, but they're really just a way to subsidize private schools (generally religious) for the wealthy. Since vouchers aren't required to be accepted by a school as payment-in-full, parents need to come up with the balance of the tuition themselves.

    Having to come up with $20,000 a year or more out of their own pockets disenfranchises the poor and middle class, who can't afford to make use of a voucher. And if you add in the fact that private schools aren't required to accept all applicants like public schools are, and it becomes obvious that vouchers are just a discount program for students without disabilities or other problems, and who have wealthy parents.

    Everyone else will be left behind in under-funded and failing public schools.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  49. Andre R. Newcomb

    Are schools in decline? Or are people just obeying the law?

    March 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  50. David of Alexandria VA

    There is no doubt that the strength of our economy relies on our competativeness, inventiveness, and ability to field an educated work force. As much as some would like to say that a smoking hot, competative economy is somehow barbarian, without it, we won't be able to afford all the new shiney things we consider to be our "entitlements." Without it, we won't be able to protect ourselves from the better-educated barbarians at the gates.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  51. andy Lynn, MA

    Jack, I'm an old fart just like you. I can remember when America was ranked number 1 in almost everything; education, industry, agriculture, etc. We've managed to outsource everything and have become an outrageous consumer/user society. The last of our greatness is with our Praetorian Guards, our military. There are far too many parallels between today's America and Rome during its decline and final, irreversible fall. I wonder what the top three percent will do? Try to buy the rulung Junta?

    March 21, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  52. David Doherty

    Jack it's not so much the decline of the public school system as much as a decline in our society. It's become unnecessary to learn anything, need a phone number, it's programed in the phone, need a answer to a question, just type it in to the computer, need spell something, just use spell check. Go out side and get some exercise, can't I won't have time to finish playing my video games. Eat healthy food, why when their bombarded with all the commercials for crap. How on earth do we expect to raise healthy well rounded kids when all the adults are so busy stuffing their heads and stomachs with everthing under the sun that will have the opposite effect.
    Dave from NH.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  53. Greg in Arkansas

    My Grandfather always said "you usually get what you pay for" so it is not surprising that education levels are declining when the LARGEST salaries and budgets in many schools are in the athletic departments.
    Education has taken a back seat to entertainment at a time when technology is replacing thinking.
    Kids can watch a basketball game on their "smart" phone but cannot remember their own phone number, follow a GPS on a cross continent trip but can't tell a 911 operator the name of the street they are on in an emergency and can "google" anything they want to know so they won't have to remember a thing.......so yes, WE ARE AT RISK if the batteries go dead and or we don't know which "APP" button to push.......

    March 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  54. John Lake Charles, LA

    The decline of the American family is what is putting this country at risk. Working moms, single moms, no moms, or dads for that matter. No respect for anything or anybody. No personal responsibility. No discipline, no dedication, no committment. Too much TV. Too much smart phone. Too much facebook. Too much f & s in movies and tv. Too much political correctness. It all adds up Jack. The sad part is, there is no going back, just like the fall of the Roman Empire.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  55. Nate NC

    Success comes from Successors. With the decline in education, students have become used to standards being lowered and still being able to get by. Unfortunately, this does not teach the morals and ethics of past generations. Thus, the current generation has no knowledge of what it takes to maintain if not improve this country's present state thereby minimizing their ability to perform. Struggle and hard-work makes a person realize how much they lack and still have left to achieve. But without those being present, even as early as in K-12 schooling, we will one day wake up to another surprise attack by a foreign entity ready to take America's place as a leading nation.

    March 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  56. Frank Poynton from Los Angeles

    Of course this decline puts our security at risk. It's a "no brainer".

    March 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  57. Pat from Guernsey

    Lack of education in this country is putting many things at risk. National security may be the scariest. Thomas Jefferson noted that a successful democracy depends on an educated public. With the elections coming up we need educated voters who can think for themselves and see beyond the super-expensive campaigns.

    Back in the 1960's the federal government was concerned enough about our education systen to give special consideration to students studying math, science and foreign languages. That thinking dwindled, along with those who were thinking "green" at that time (Ralph Nader).

    I thought that when computers came in, good spelling was going to be a necessity. Nope, they can get around that. Good grammar is becoming a joke.
    Don't need to read and write. Libraries don't need to stock books as much as movies and computers.

    Engineering and other technologies use networking (who you know) to fill job vacancies, rather than looking for creative people. Cheating is rampant in our high schools and universities. Sports in the high schools is where our education tax money is going. Teachers and administrators who bolster this thinking are the ones being hired - you better believe it.

    High school students believe they are going to set the world on fire because they are good athletes, and look who is earning the big bucks in our society! Hope you don't depend on them for national security!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  58. David Gerstenfeld

    Jack, The decline (disaster is a more defining word) to represent our school system is putting MY country at risk way beyond security. Manufacturing can't find skilled labor to hire; those that do graduate high school or college can't compete with any industrial country's graduates. It's a bag of worms why starting with the powerful teachers unions, lack of involved parenting etc. We lead the world in texting, tweeting, facebooking, & drug use. That along with a broken political system can only lead to a decline. This generation isn't like any of past generations that could at some point, wake up & change direction and lead once again. Watch Jay Leno's Jaywalking !
    David, Las vegas

    March 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  59. Kim , Dodge City, Ks

    In our PC correct obsessed society, where little Johnny is never allowed to face his personal disappointments and failures, this is what the result is. On the other hand, our govermental policies such as NAFTA and the like, have ensured that we will end up a nation of minimum wage workers with no jobs to fill anyway. So why would little Johnny ever want to be a "snob" and go to college. What we have coming is Rick Santorum's dream world, where there is no litteracy, and only strict religious dogma enforced at the point of a gun. Probably a Chinese gun.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  60. Ann from Charleston SC

    Definitely. As long as schools are forced to "teach the test" our schools will continue to decline, and our citizens will be left with no skills with which to meet the challenges they face. Students need to learn the basics – reading, writing and math – so they will have the tools to pursue knowledge. They need to learn to think – to solve problems, to determine what is fact and what is opinion, to evaluate information intelligently, to compare and contrast, etc. Without those skills, we will not only be left behind, but at risk of takeover by those who hate us. Much of what students will need to know just isn't on those tests.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  61. Michael, from Smiths, Alabama

    In terms of our competitiveness in the global market, yes, we're in danger. But in National Security..I highly doubt it. But it does say quite alot about our education system when it suddenly becomes a concern for national security. Hope this doesn't lead to turning schools into boot camps, otherwise my future children will be home-schooled.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  62. barbara in nc

    All we have to do is adopt the Republican Budget Plan.

    1. Decrease taxes on the wealthy.
    2. Increase Defense Spending.
    3. Eliminate Social Security and Medicare.
    4. Eliminate Departments of Education and Health.

    There - we're all safe now. (Well it looked good on the etch-a-sketch, but someone dropped it).

    March 21, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  63. Bob, St. Thomas PA

    Absolutely, Jack. Look how well Santorum has done, and how Ron Paul is virtually ignored. That should answer your question.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  64. Randy

    The true meaning of this silly "report" is to set Americans up to compete with third world countries for the lowest wages possible. I've noticed that every time there's a BIPARTISAN free trade agreement about to be signed we start hearing about how dumb our kids are and that they're not ready for this "global" economy. The only thing that's global is corporations, profits, and the 1%ers who have no country or loyalties. The media and government are filled with 1%ers so you know where their loyalties are.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  65. Craig from Georgia

    Of course it is. We are now applying the priciples that were once for blacks only to all americans now. The dumber we aer, the more controllable we'll be. The rich can continue to send the poor to war in defense of THEIR freedom. This was an easy one, Jack.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  66. becky, Las Vegas

    You bet it is, Jack, for exactly the reasons you've outlined. This country is headed for even more trouble if it doesn't get its collective head out its' butt and fix the economy, environment, schools and government. It takes educated folks to run or fix those institutions but by 2027, few will be qualified AND there won't be an app for that.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  67. Jesse


    The success in our nation is based on education. Continuous improvement in the quality of life for all of God's people is shared from one generation to the next. America's darkest times occurred when education was not an option for all people. If we are to continue to enhance the quality of life for all, education is the answer. Not your opinionated politician!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  68. bud rupert

    Everyone says K-12 is going to hell in a hand basket. I'm not so sure. Growing up in the 1950's and attending the public school system was no better (maybe worse) then today. Yeah we got the basic 3 R's (OK I guess) but it seems to me we also were taught a lot of nonsense built around myth and half the truths. Example: We never were taught how the Native Americans were treated so badly by our government. Or the tragedy of slavery, or evolution. Jack I think we live in a state of illusion by thinking things use to be much better then they actually were

    March 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  69. Ken from California

    I find it hard to image our youth learning in a improved educational environment, in our dwindling family structure, and our abandonment of civility. We have become sloppy, in our marriages, in our language, in our behavior toward each other, in our eating habits, the way we dress, and indeed, education. Thanks for keeping your tie on Jack.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  70. Ed in Sac

    Yes, it is a threat to our National Security, but dysfunctional public education is simply a mirror of our society as a whole. Is drug abuse, violence, or criminal gangs confined to schools, no! Will fixing the public education system by passing some new law fix the underlying problems...don't make me laugh!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  71. marybeth, massachusetts


    Not just national security but our future–for young people to have the skills they'll need to do the jobs available (hopefully not limited to "Welcome to Wal-Mart" or "Would you like fries with that?") but also for those teaching and training the next generations and caring for the elderly.

    Kids getting out of school today are tech-savvy (even if a good number of them are still naive re what they post on their Facebook and MySpace pages) but they lack other skills–the ability to read, write, communicate effectively, to get along with others, to work together as a team and to work independently. To be a good citizen.

    A generation or two ago, high school kids had to take Civics classes, and most schools offered both home economics (where you'd learn not only cooking, sewing, basic household maintenance but also how to balance a checkbook, paying bills, etc.) and shop (basic repairs to machines and equipment. Those days are long gone. Back then teachers also had the support of parents, and if kids weren't doing well, parents got after the kids. At sporting events, the losing team or individuals didn't get trophies–those only went to the winners.

    Today, helicopter parents try to smooth all obstacles for their kids, so their kids never learn from mistakes or what it is like to fail (those are valuable lessons too). Every kid and team gets a trophy or medal, not just the winners. Teachers get blamed when kids don't do the homework, don't take the test or fail the test, don't do the work. The system ties teachers' hands behind their backs, stymies them at every turn, yet expects perfection from them. No Child Left Behind ensured that teachers now teach to the test, because that is what matters, rather than knowledge and know-how.

    We can fix this by supporting teachers, making Civics classes part of the curriculum again (if you want kids to be knowledgable citizens), and let kids fail and make mistakes. They'll remember and learn from them. Parents should be involved, but not to the point where they hassle teachers, run interference for their kids, demand A's even when C's are what the kids deserve.

    This article reminds me of the fall of the Roman Empire–handing off more and more to barbarians and not caring about laws and regulations. It weakened Rome and it never recovered.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  72. Thom Richer

    Keep demeaning teachers, dishonoring them and blaming them for all economic educational woes and the answer will soon be a resounding, "Yes!" Those who are putting education in decline are those who know diddly about teaching, education, and administering to students, parents and teachers. They are those who have never been in a classroom daily, year to year and "visit" schools every now and then and sit in on a class once a year to do evaluations. They are those who make insane and asinine tests for teachers to teach to without taking the individual into account or their education needs or desires. Just get those test scores up so we look good. Keep lowering salaries, depleting benefits, acting like Big Brother, constantly criticizing, open disrespect for those in education daily and publicly, dictating what to teach and how to teach it, lessening their importance to society, underfunding, putting 30 and more in a class and once again the answer is, "Yes!" Yup, its all the teachers fault.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    March 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  73. Kevin in CA

    This is clearly wrong headed thinking. It has been shown that the free enterprise, capitalist solution is more efficient and profitable. You just subcontract to corporations like Black Water, etc.
    They get the job done cheaper & easier – problem solved. And the best part, you don't have to worry about having an educated population that might question the corporate / political elite.

    March 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  74. Terri from Blountville, TN

    Of course, the decline in education is putting nation security at risk. Without appropriate funding students don't get the needed training. The Republican party bashes everything and would like nothing more than take even more money from schools. We are running down hill instead of a steady climb upward. We all need to wake up and realize that the children are the future is more than a hollow sound byte..

    March 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  75. Tom (Atlanta)

    Jack, I find it unacceptable that American are second to anyone in Reading, Math and Science. These are the very things that have propelled us to being the worlds leading economy and Shepards of human rights and freedom. Yes, we can import these skills like we do most everything else, but if we let our core fall behind we will not retain our leadership and become just a bunch or arrogant dumb people. Our education system is falling behind and failing to serve us well. Sort of reminds us of Detroit doesn't it. Maybe it will take a serious solution to this most serious challenge at a national level whereby the States are empowered and teacher entitlements are geared down while how students learn is geared up. You get what you measure, and this is "wake up call".

    March 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  76. Dan from Stewartstown PA

    Absolutely! The 1%ers have so many tax dodges that they don't pay their fair share in taxes tha go to support our public schools. What do they care, though. They send their spawn to private schools where they know the big bucks they pay will open doors, guarantee good educations and and form the bonds with others of the priveledged class that will help them fit into the "right" crowd. Many of these folks are the same ones who have off-shored our manufacturing jobs, weakened our economy and put us squarely at risk. I ask you Jack, what's wrong with this picture?

    March 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  77. Thom Richer

    If education plays such an important and crucial role in our national security, then why don't we fund it instead of war? In Congress, war is priority number one and education is far down the list if not at the bottom of it. Put the blame where it belongs for a change.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    March 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  78. Renee, Illinois

    It puts a lot more than national security at risk. The economy, health care system, technology and even our infrastructure are at risk. Without the doctors, engineers and scientists necessary to keep these parts of our country up and running we're spiraling closer and closer to third world status. Thought it could never happen here? Too late, it is happening. It makes home-schooler types like Santorum even harder to understand. And leaves me wondering at the real reason why so many politicians want to cut funding for education. Couldn't have anything to do with their low approval ratings,now could it?

    March 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  79. Paul P.

    Absolutely. One has to be clearly uneducated not to see the link. The problem the US has is it is focused on power and money and we've lost the ability to look at ourselves critically in order to make the big changes and investments that need to be made.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  80. Tarviler

    Probably Jack. It's not so much about the lack of education as it is what is being taught. Too much emphasis is being heaped upon subjects that are best taught in the school of hard knocks. Let's get back to basics and teach the three R's. Math, science, the proper use of the English language, history, and technical trades. Degrees in useless skills, especially in Universities, offered only to pad the student body should be ended. Apprentiships under skilled workers are needed where actual hands on practical skills are employed would significantly improve the workforce. This developes a two tier system of employment, which is some deem unacceptable, is a way to dream, design and do. It takes us all to be successful. Success breeds security.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  81. Terry in Virginia

    If only our elected representatives funded schools and not their wealthy patrons, wars, and special interests, in addition to ending unfunded projects like "No Child Left Behind" which forced teachers to teach to the test instead of teaching the basics needed for a good education.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  82. Tracie in Texas

    A dumbed- down electorate is not overly discerning when choosing those who represent them-at the local, state or federal levels .Most glaring examples? The current crop of GOP candidates and (let's not forget) our Congress who initiates all those laws informing the policies America brings to the country and the world at large.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  83. Leonel Albarran

    Certainly, when I was in high school, a teacher taught me everything about the banking system and how to do your own taxes and finances. These things ultimately lead to my financial success and they replaced her classes with cooking classes, outdoor education and other useless classes.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  84. John McConnell

    Yes, but I'm sick and tired of hearing this "hold the schools accountable" stuff. I've been teaching for over 15 years, and to be honest, the kids have become lazier and the parents don't care. They don't want to do their homework, have no idea how to study and spend way too much time with video games, Facebook, etc. There is a complete lack of responsibility on the students' part and there is nothing I, or any other teacher, can do about it.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  85. Zak Malamed

    One of the greatest failures of the education system is the reluctance to listen to the students. Even the likes of Arne Duncan admit that the students know what's wrong with the educations ystem before anyone else, yet no one listens to us. If positive change is to come, people need to start listening.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  86. Andy, Sun Valley, NV

    Sad, too, is the fact that our educational system administrators are all products of our educational system. Things can only get worse unless the entire system isn't overhauled.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  87. morgan

    For decades, the Republicans have waged war on education by defunding schools and referring to educated people as "elites!" They have promoted anti-intellectualism and the sheeple have bought it hook, line, and sinker. Just recently, one of the Republican candidate categorized college as being for "snobs!" In a society where education is not valued nor strongly supported by our government via tax dollars (because wars are more treasured than education), what does this country expect. Finally, it isn't so much the schools that are failing us as the parents who aren't engaged in their children's education nor are they imparting the value of education to their young. Schools can only do so much but if the kids and the parents aren't locked into the necessity of education, we are bound to be doomed!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  88. yarply

    Just remember folks. Our schools are what the government has made them. Now we have a problem?

    Well. Whats the solution?

    Bet they have a plan.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  89. Pete/Ark

    Jack at age 64 I can compare my educational experience to that of my 31 year old daughter and 11 year old granddaughter...the system has deteriorated from educating toward the goal of knowledgable people to creating test-passing drones...my daughter is in her 15th year of military service and is depressed by the quality of potential recruits... in her words "they just don't get it"...what is it ? Independent thought and self-esteem. Yeah we're in trouble because the kids don't understand that life isn't a standardized test.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  90. Glenn

    Absolutely. When you have state legislatures like Tennessee making requirements of teachers and educators to work to teach “scientific subjects” such as “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as scientific controversies. Conservative politicians are trying to take us back a century in education in order to insert creationism into science.

    Haymarket, VA

    March 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  91. Mike Soulliere

    Yes! If we do not start raising the level of education with our youth they will become the followers of the world instaed of the leaders. Something countries like China would like to see.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  92. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Declining education, insensible immigration crack down, where do we expect the intellectual talent to come from in the future?

    Where do we expect the imagination and creativity that in the past has led us to new innovation and possibilities is to come from?

    Yet the wall building, crippling, absolute ideological politics go on. We just don't get it.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  93. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    So what is being suggested...a war on bureaucratic indoctrination? The national, state and local school systems are a platform for revenue generation by extorsion, "pay more taxes or the children will suffer", no school busses, or extracurricular activities, or...whatever. Jack, we got troubles right here in River City and it ain't the marching band !

    March 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  94. Paul (Paul Newsom) Oneida, NY

    Defense readiness SHOULD BE THE LAST consideration for an education. We have a public that relies on fictional history and supernaturalism to determine who the next president should be. Ignorance is the greatest danger our nation faces. And domestic defense against ignorance depends upon a broad education grounded in reality.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  95. Tim Marshall

    Obesity and criminal records are not the fault of educators, it is from a lack of parenting. It is amazing how education gets blamed for what ails us, when they have minimal control over their clientele. Education funding is constantly being cut across this country, so it is amazing what they accomplish, with what they have to work with. Everyone knows that kids that do well in school also have parents that are actively involved in their education. They read to them, help them with homework, provide proper diets, and don't blame the system for their failures.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  96. Marty

    I have almost 20 years of military service under my belt, after I came back from Afghanistan in 2005 I became a recruiter for the Iowa National Guard. When I joined in the 90's nobody worried about taking the ASVAB but as a recruiter from 2006-2009 I had to test at least 10 people per month to get 2 high school students to pass the test. Most of my enlistments came from people in their 30's going through a time in their life where they had a need to do something. During my time I put over 200 people in less than 20% were highschool students. I was very active in my schools but they just didn't measure up on the math and science tests and that caused the massive failures. A few of my teachers and coaches that I worked with were well aware of the problems but they had no way to fix it due to the no child left behind act.

    Cedar Rapids, IA

    March 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  97. Julie from San Rafael, CA

    There's no question the decline in student performance is putting our national security at risk, but is it putting it more at risk than the inequitable socio-economic climate in the America? There is always something to learn if you aspire to learn. But, how are students to be inspired to learn if they see a hypocritical economic system and even more hypocritical political system. They see the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, no matter how much education is obtained. Even PhD.'s are unemployed today.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  98. Midwest Jim

    Education is the real job creator, we must invest in a quality public school for every student. The Bush Administration tried to destroy public schools with their "No Child Left Behind." Joel and his ilk keep demonizing those working in the trenches against tremendous odds–crime, poverty, a pop culture that downplays education and uninvolved parents. American public schools do very well when they are supported. Our best public schools do better than any others in the world. The problem is we leave whole neighborhoods behind, usually poverty stricken black and Hispanic neighborhoods. And sending public dollars to private charter schools is not the answer. Start listening to the teachers not the for-profit vultures.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  99. lueann

    I totally agree! I am a teacher in a rural public high school. I have standards. I hold students accountable for the assignments. I uphold quality as a standard. What do I get for this? Pander to parents! Just yesterday I was asked the question, "Will you be giving homework over Spring break?" Why? The child needs a break! The state test will be given after the break! Students don't want to work but they want the grade. Parents take their children out of school to go on vacation...a week at a time! The state wants to hold teachers accountable. Who holds parents accountable? Who supports the teachers who do want to teach and not spend time making phone calls, staying after school to have those students who went on vacation make up the work? Who supports us? It does take a village to raise a child...not a teacher.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  100. Richard Texas

    Have you ever thought that 75 percent of our children have no desire to join our military in the first place? Why would they? Do you honestly think they want to be sent to some god forsaken part of the world to fight a war they can not possibly win that was designed by our ignorant leaders who do not really know why they are sending them there? These kids are dumb like a fox Jack.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  101. Jason

    No, I would say things are going to stay the same. This is how it has worked forever now. Only the kids of wealthy parents can afford to go to the best schools in the country. Those kids will graduate the the most elite private high schools in the country before going on to the very top colleges in the country (no matter how dumb they are). Education in this country is built upon exclusion. The normal high school student (no matter how smart he/she may be) is only needed to keep the main part of the work force going. Just someone to turn machines off and on. It goes against the interest of corporate America to have too many educated people out there.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  102. Marie from Iowa

    It is insulting to us who live in the Heartland to hear blatant accusations about public education that do not apply to us.
    We haven't had a dropout for years. We have tremendous educational success from preschool to college and vocational graduation. To damn all schools may be dramatic, but it is not fair.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  103. Steve Kemp from Sacramento, Ca.

    Steve from Sacramento, Ca. writes:

    Of course the decline of our education system is putting our national security at risk.
    But the Republicans Party wants, and needs, stupid voters.
    Look how close Sarah Palin almost got to being V.P.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  104. DT - Saint Paul, MN

    Clearly it has. We have an entire population that doesn't understand economics, finance, or global relations on any level. Crippling our own economy through stupid decisions is just another day to us. No one seems to understand the situation we are in NOW is the same as the days before the Great Depression. We wont lose a war because of our soldiers. But we lost the global economic war. Maybe we should put another greedy businessman in office so he can fix it all.....

    March 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  105. Julie in MN

    1) Get the unions out of the eduction system in the US. 2) Require that all teachers have at minimum 2 years in corporate America experience so they are able to tell students why they need to learn the things they teach 3) Kids have way too much time off and out of school, as do teachers 3) Do away with teaching contracts and tenure–let free market prevail and keep the best teachers in the schools 4) Give good teachers raises, but they must commit to working full time (2080 hours per year like in Corporate America) with a communsurate vacation policy 5) Allow teachers to teach, and the abillity to stand up to students who do not want to learn

    March 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  106. SAM (Raleigh, NC)

    Until PARENTS become more involved and caring about their children's education, our system's educational process will continue to falter. Education begins at HOME! We don't need to throw more good money after bad, but have more parent/teacher conferences, individually and in groups, to educate the parents about the poor job THEY are doing!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  107. curtis in philadelphia

    Possibly Jack, any idea how many members of Congress went to public school?

    March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  108. Jerry Fisher

    When are we going to stand up and admit that much of the problems with America's has to do with poor parenting. Some of these people won't even get out of bed to get there kids up to go to school. As an at-risk counselor, I have often dealt with students who have missed two or even three years of school. It leaves them behind and feeling left out I agree., but the schools can't go around and wake up every kid that needs to be in school. It's way past time to take some of the blame of the school and place where it belongs with the parents. They would rather be a pal than a parent because the pal method is pretty darn easy to do. We need to look inward as parents and quit blaming everyone else. That may help this whole crisis.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  109. Tom Kerr

    The problem with our education system is not with the quality of the teachers or the school systems. The problem is the students. Bad students infect good students like a disease, causing them to misbehave and fail to study and to complete assignments. Because of our government mandated, politically correct school system, bad students are not expelled unless they do something completely aggregious like bringing a gun to school. Even then they aren't expelled. They just get transferred to a "disciplinary school". These bad students then go on to propogate children, and when bad people raise children, the children become bad students.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  110. Carl Kellum

    Yes, national security is being compromised. when will state governments get it? In order to secure national security you have to invest in it. Dollars need to be spend on our education system in order to do this, The trend seems to be to cut teachers, close school and limit state education budgets. How does this solve the "crisis in our education system" and thus our national security issue?

    March 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  111. Gail Longworth

    Why do we lay the entire education problem at the feet of teachers and schools? How about getting your child to school WELL RESTED AND WELL FED? How about telling your child to turn off the video games and do some homework? Do you go to your school open house? Have you ever told the teacher s/he can count on you for back-up if little Billy acts up, or have you taught your child to say, "My mom is going to sue you!!" Do your job as a parent and consider teachers your ally, not your enemy!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  112. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    As long as we let the school board tell the teachers what they are to teach like basket weaving, tic tac do and subjects that require no studying, no thinking and test that most four year olds could pass just to made the system look good with all the high test scores, they need to get back to teaching a basic schedule, math, civics, english, history and science. Just go to Mcdonalds and if the cashier has to make change without the aid of the cash register you will be in for a long wait, can't add 25 plus 25. Damn sad

    March 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  113. Pete, NJ

    Jack, you are buying into the Washington hype intended to sell us a bridge in a desert. As a recently retired high school science teacher, our students are brighter today than ever. It has only been the top 10% that achieve excellence. This has not changed much in 200 years. Now the political reformers are trying to compare that 10% to entire communities. We are also being told that every child should have the opportunity to go to college. I agree the chance should be offered, but you can lead a horse to water but, well, you know the rest. The Tech-Prep program claims that 9/10 jobs in the next 2 decades will require post secondary training but not a college degree. American teachers are doing a better job than most of the rest of the world, Administrators let some bad teachers slip through the cracks. And politicians will try to convince you that the whole system is broken. Students who have the desire can get the best education in the world in almost any school. Those that don't want to work cannot be forced to get an education. And helicopter parents who blame the teachers for their poor parenting are the biggest problem we face. No one really wants an answer, just a scapegoat for an election year. In the mean time, teachers are trying to do the best they can in an environment where everyone treats them like dirt.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  114. Susan MacDonnell

    Though I often cringe at cries of "national security risk," in this case I think I agree that the sorry state of our public education IS a security risk. We cannot be a stable, safe, participating member of the global community if our kids have no mature or critical understanding of the complexities of modern societies, science, technology, politics and economics. This goes way beyond excellence in math or sciences– what about civics, current events, and sociology– our kids will be the next Mayors, City and Town Council members, planners, administrators, teachers (!), members of state and national legislatures, and the list goes on...

    March 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  115. Derek Dunbar

    It sure does! just look at the increase of gangs in America. These gang members are not Highscool gratuates, they're dropouts!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  116. Ron

    Decline is an understatement..just stroll through a NYC public school and you will see teachers with the look of hopelessness and students (not all) but most running a muck. There is a fear to dicipline without retaliation. And too many parents treat the schools as a daycare center for their bundle of joy. I would not be surprised if by 2020 HS reading averages barely reach remedial at best

    March 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  117. Mike

    This is the master plan. Anti-depressants, Dancing with the Stars, big screen TV's and all the popcorn and cola you can shove down your throat. Throw in anti-tolerance, creationist teachings, and diversionary politics and you have Utopia. Mr. Cafferty, come on over to our side and be assimilated.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  118. Ray

    Unfortunately this is a "no brainer" and the result of one. Our security is at risk, our social security is at risk, our society is at risk. Never has a system failed as rapidly as our public schools. It won't be long before the world sees us (our children) as the ones to call for a fast food pickup, a cab ride, or their lawn care as that will be the limit to our competitive abilities to deliver in an ever faster moving world.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  119. Susan From Montana

    Gee whiz! I just never get tired of the constant blather about under paid teachers. (gag me with a spoon) I'd love to earn their wage for a 9 month a year job. Even with all the extra training they are required to take. Teachers think they have the only jobs that require great sacrifice and a college degree. The problem with education is the teachers. If you are in teaching for the money rather than the satisfation of inspiring and educating the minds of your students then you should find a different profession! Is it a problem for national security? Oh ya. The walking jelly heads of our un- educated young adults who are easily influenced by a miriad of zealous factions (terrorists and the like) will be our ruin.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  120. Jesse from Pa.

    Education has been on the decline for the pass 20 years, and now the Republicans want to de-fund the Department of Education along with any of other programs that support the infrastructure of this country. Yes you are correct ........ we as a country are in a race to the bottom and no one should be surprised when one day we are recieving aid from the new economic powers of the world....... don't bet on it !!!!!!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  121. Peggy

    II feel schools don't take their job seriously enough. I don't think they are really equipped to handle the children and all the problems they are dealing with. The world is a tough place right now. Parents don't know how to handle it. Teachers don't know how to handle it. As soon as a child is having problems, the system just tries to ignore it or put blame but no real ways to handle it. Bullying comes to mind. There should be no bullying no matter what! I know this problem..my nephew is in the middle of being bullied right now. The school will not deal with it and it is an ongoing problem as we speak. He is a really good kid. No reason for anyone to pick on him. I think there are so many problems for parents that it is changing our children into angry, mean and out of control kids, going in the direction of being cruel and into criminals and real education is suffering because of it. No one is prepared or know how to handle it. It is completely out of control and it scares me. It should scare everyone.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  122. Ed Mckinney

    We can,t even discuss the real problem anymore.Dr William Shockley a Nobel Prize winner predicted all the problems we are having now.He warned us of the outcome and nobody would listen to this genius! Because of the genius,s in the media this man was blackballed.Now all his predictions are coming true.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  123. Phil - NY

    The only issue I see here is the validity of the data presented. We've become mindless in the way we accept and react to figures with nebulous origins – just like when Duncan pronounced that something like 80 percent of students would be considered failing under NCLB, when in reality he was off by almost 40 percent.
    With that said, it was worth it just to hear Wolf's insightful response of "I hate that..."

    March 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  124. Tim Marshall

    One thing that always bothers me, when those that like to compare US reading, math and science scores to those of other countries, is that you cannot compare apples to oranges. Most countries that finish higher than the US in these categories do not have similar demographics of student populations. For example, US reading scores will be lower due to the inclusion of special needs students, that other countries do not use in their data. And to lump the entire education system into one lump category is not fair as well. Most suburban and rural districts do very well, but are then brought down by large inner city districts. Bottom line, it is totally unfair to constantly take money from education, then blame the institution for outside failures.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  125. Mark

    I'm a former HS teacher. Loved the job and would go back to teaching, but I couldn't make even 35% of what I now make in the private sector (that includes benefits!). You get what you pay for. Teachers need to be paid competitive to the market. Anyone who you'd want teaching your kid math, science or computers can earn at least 2-3 times the salary of a teacher in the US. You get what you pay for.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  126. Frank

    You bet it is! The younger generationis have lost sight of the fundamental principles that our fore fathers built this country on. The patriotism and willingness to make sacrifices to protect democracy are not as prominent today as previous generations. Maybe we need to put more emphasis on instilling our country's fundamentals of democracy in our youth through the public education system. Iran, Korea, and many other third world countries sure take the time to instill their political views of the western democratic societies into their youth. It's time we do the same. God Bless America!!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  127. Larry in Houston

    Is the decline of American schools putting national security at risk? That's a loaded question. It all depends on several things. Take a good look at the education system here in Mr. Perry's State – It's Pathetic,To be perfectly honest. Let me put it this way, in a short answer : If I was raising kids now days, I most definitely would Not Be Raising Them Here In Texas ! Not going into a lot of detail, the education system here in Texas is pitiful – or as some people says : "It Sucks"
    The dropout rate is horrendous !! (among a lot of other things)

    March 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  128. Betty G. Texas

    It's clear that the federal government has an "education" agenda and that agenda is very unclear to the populace. Are any of the respondents to this question and are any of those who are in power who are making these statements educators themselves? Any person worth his or her salt will sit in various classrooms throughout the country and attend conferences with teachers to get a clear picture of what society is now.

    The product of education, the students graduating from high schools and colleges, are a direct reflection of society itself and the values (or lack thereof) that society places upon education.

    When "parents" don't feed their children before school, the school has to provide food in order for brains to function at a minimal level. When parents insist that sports and extra curricular activities are of more value than helping their children read and do math at home, the burden to "educate" falls within a 6 hour school day.

    The educational system is rapidly imploding because of multiple factors which are complicated far beyond a politician's opinion. Opinions are a dime a dozen. Do the research and explore society at large.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  129. JT in KC

    Education is a huge problem, but I take issue with the “public” portion of that description. I don’t believe the system or teachers have gotten worse; the raw material has. Students who’s parents spend more time on Netflix than homework, parents who have built their own little perfect, infallible caesars. Parents who bypass public school entirely to send their children to American madrassas of private schools and so-called home schooling where the real goal is not education at all, but indoctrination with the narrow beliefs of mom and dad. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Just another symptom of the laziness and self-absorption that is ruining this country. Public school is just another blame-outlet where Americans can point the finger when they need to be pointing the thumb.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  130. Tre

    As a Teacher and a Soldier, I can see our current system is a threat. The funding for our schools is horrible. Lack of supplies, long hours, and losing benefits (i.e. Wisconsin). If we matched the philosophy of funding our military to our funding of schools, we would have success. We need support our teachers inside and outside the classroom (parents).

    Treston Schoeny
    Davis, IL

    March 21, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  131. Karen Mulvey

    No. Parents are. Whatever happened to checking homework – not doing it just checking it, asking to see test results during marking periods – not complaining to teachers about them when the report cards arrive, making school the priority and not all these extra-curricula activities that burn out our children in the hopes a star will be born? School systems are there to educate not raise our children. Recent events have shown our national security is strenghtened when we work together. Like most everything in life, National Security begins in the home.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  132. Terrence Hall

    Thats a true fact that we all have been realizing for years. I have given up hope that anyone in government wants to do anything about it. God help us!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  133. Chris Buntain

    I don't believe the quality of education alone can be to blame for a decline in imitable applicants for the military. I think It is a lack of interest in the programs that schools offer to students. Many students pass up opportunities for after school activities that may prevent them from spending time with their friends or family. I am in this demographic of young Americans. I am twenty two years old. I have overcome childhood obesity and have pushed my education into many areas of my life to better myself. I have overcome medical disabilities and improved my health. I wanted to serve my country for more than 5 years now only to find that I am not able to enlist because of a criminal charge when I was fifteen years of age. My class D felony could be considered an A misdemeanor in most states. If that were the case I would be able to enlist. The only chance I have to serve my country would be to part of the draft or to volunteer in a time of war. We should be more willing to compromise and extend our arms and minds to our younger generation and help lead them in a direction to open their mind to the availabilities they may have right now in their lives. Maybe then they will apply themselves from a more personal level. I may have a biased opinion to some or maybe to other I do not have the wisdom of age. I do not see the logic of holding them to the same standards of adults without giving them the same privileges. I supervise over 110 employees at a major logistics company but I am not offered the ability to serve my country because of people I failed to distance myself from years ago. We should not point our finger in one direction and believe it is the only place to find answers. Its not the nations youth that is failing in this instance.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  134. Michael

    I am a middle school teacher in Chicago. As an educator, I can say that I feel like I'm not only the front line, but in many cases the only line of defense between a student seeing education as crucial to their future or a required sentence. We don't need benchmarks and school closures to help education in this country. We need support from the community, the media, politicians, but most of all: parents! We are living in a society that does not value education and that is the crisis.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  135. Chris Buntain

    I don't believe the quality of education alone can be to blame for a decline in imitable applicants for the military. I think It is a lack of interest in the programs that schools offer to students. Many students pass up opportunities for after school activities that may prevent them from spending time with their friends or family. I am in this demographic of young Americans. I am twenty two years old. I have overcome childhood obesity and have pushed my education into many areas of my life to better myself. I have overcome medical disabilities and improved my health. I wanted to serve my country for more than 5 years now only to find that I am not able to enlist because of a criminal charge when I was fifteen years of age. My class D felony could be considered an A misdemeanor in most states. If that were the case I would be able to enlist. The only chance I have to serve my country would be to part of the draft or to volunteer in a time of war. We should be more willing to compromise and extend our arms and minds to our younger generation and help lead them in a direction to open their mind to the availabilities they may have right now in their lives. Maybe then they will apply themselves from a more personal level. I may have a biased opinion to some or maybe to other I do not have the wisdom of age. I do not see the logic of holding them to the same standards of adults without giving them the same privileges. I supervise over 110 employees at a major logistics company but I am not offered the ability to serve my country because of people I failed to distance myself from years ago. We should not point our finger in one direction and believe it is the only place to find answers. Its not the nations youth that is failing in this instance

    Mooresville, IN

    March 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  136. Eskay Williams

    Decline in American schools is an indication that education is no longer attractive and most especially it is not attractive to this present generation of students. The jobs are not their for those with the required education. More so, those with jobs cannot make ends meet due to salaries that are far below average standard of living. Essentially, their is no dignity in education nor labor. Hence, this generation of students are more interested in playing with gadgets than getting education. Provide Americans with jobs that pay dignifying wages and you will see increased interest in education.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:50 pm |