To the Editor:
In recalling the contributions of the 1983 report A Nation at Risk (“A Nation at Risk: 25 Years Later,” Sept. 24, 2008), we should not forget that its authors had not bought in to the current assumption of standards reformers that secondary education is solely a preparation for college. The report stated: “We must emphasize that the variety of student aspirations, abilities, and preparations requires that appropriate content be available to satisfy diverse needs.” This statement would be dismissed by current reformers as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
There are dangers in the assumptions about student abilities adopted by reformers in the 1980s, and there are dangers in the assumptions of current reformers. An honest exploration of these assumptions would help us in formulating educational policy.
William A. Proefriedt
City University of New York Queens College
A version of this article appeared in the October 22, 2008 edition of Education Week as Nation at Risk Assumptions Are Not Necessarily Today’s