Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

‘Perfect Storm’ Report: Alarm, But Not Blame

June 11, 2007 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

The beginning of Ellen Condliffe Lagemann’s Commentary “Public Rhetoric, Public Responsibility, and the Public Schools” (May 16, 2007) references three reports, including one we helped write, “America’s Perfect Storm.” She asserts that each “argues that our nation is in peril because our educational institutions are failing to prepare workers who can compete with workers in other nations.” We beg to differ, at least with respect to our report.

The intent of “America’s Perfect Storm” was twofold: (1) to characterize the current distribution of literacy skills in the nation’s workforce and the strong associations between those skills, on the one hand, and economic and social outcomes on the other, and (2) to project the implications of demographic and economic trends on the distribution of literacy skills in 2030, as well as the dire consequences for the life chances of those individuals with weak or even modest skills.

Although we do believe that these projections should cause alarm, we do not ascribe blame to the schools, as Ms. Lagemann says. Indeed, we agree with her that there is a complex dynamic involving many institutions that governs trends in educational achievement, and that policies based on simplistic diagnoses are no more likely to be successful than those tried in the past.

With the plethora of reports now in circulation, productive discussion is hindered if there is insufficient attention paid to the distinctions among them.

Henry Braun

Professor of Education and Public Policy

Boston College

Chestnut Hill, Mass.

Irwin Kirsch

Senior Research Director

Educational Testing Service

Princeton, N.J.

The writers were among the authors of “America’s Perfect Storm,” released by the Educational Testing Service in February.

To the Editor:

“Public Rhetoric, Public Responsibility, and the Public Schools,” by Ellen Condliffe Lagemann (May 16, 2007), is a Commentary so important it should be plastered to the front door of every school, next to the “Visitors Report to the Main Office” sign.

This essay should be read aloud at teachers’ and parents’ meetings. It provides the understanding that the public needs about what schools can do and what the public must do.

As one of the selected contributors to your recently published best-of-Commentary book, The Last Word, I want to nominate Ms. Lagemann’s essay for your next edition. May there be many more Commentaries such as hers to convey the message about what schools can accomplish and what society has to contribute—money, yes, but even more than money.

Dorothy Rich

Founder/President

Home and School Institute

Washington, D.C.

A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)