Spellings: U.S. Schools Must ‘Pick Up Pace’

By David J. Hoff — April 18, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The 25th anniversary of the publication of A Nation at Risk is a “teachable moment for the American public,” Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said this week.

“We have righted the ship with the intensity of focus on the individual needs of every child,” Ms. Spellings said in an interview on April 15, 11 days before the anniversary of the report’s release.

But, she said, “we’re going to have to pick up the pace considerably.”

The secretary plans to issue a white paper describing “how far we’ve come and how far we need to go,” she said. She also plans to deliver speeches and organize events highlighting the findings of that paper.

In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education, which had been appointed by Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, published the report saying that weaknesses in U.S. schools threatened to erode the nation’s international standing. The report called for efforts to improve the quality of teachers, set standards defining what students should know, and increase the rigor of coursework required to earn a high school diploma.

Sees ‘Challenges’

As the anniversary approaches, several groups have issued reports suggesting that student achievement in the United States still lags behind that of other countries.

“The United States has fallen even farther behind as other countries make concerted efforts to improve their education systems,” the Strong American Schools Campaign said in “A Stagnant Nation,” released last week. The Washington-based nonprofit group, also known as ED in ‘08, is trying to raise the profile of education in the 2008 presidential election.

In the interview, Secretary Spellings said American schools face unique challenges in trying to keep up with other nations.

“Our nation is attempting … to provide a quality education to every single person who shows up at the schoolhouse door,” she said. That is particularly difficult given the diversity of the student population, with students from all over the world enrolling in U.S. schools, she said.

“Not every [country] has that same aspiration or those same challenges,” Ms. Spellings said.

But the United States must take steps to ensure that all students have the opportunity to succeed in school so they can compete for jobs with children from around the world in the global marketplace, the secretary said.

Ms. Spellings said her efforts to promote such goals will continue beyond the end of her tenure as secretary of education next January, when President Bush leaves office.

“I’m going to be part of the firelighting about why we have to do this work as Americans,” she said.

A version of this article appeared in the April 23, 2008 edition of Education Week as Spellings: U.S. Schools Must ‘Pick Up Pace’


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
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.
School & District Management Webinar
Leading Systemic Redesign: Strategies from the Field
Learn how your school community can work together to redesign the school system, reengineer instruction, & co-author personalized learning.
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.
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

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

Federal What the Federal 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Actually Says
The bill would restrict federal funds for lessons on LGBTQ identities. The outcome of this week's election could revive its prospects.
4 min read
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol on March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida House Republicans advanced a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee on March 7, 2022. Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law was a model for a federal bill introduced last month.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Fed's Education Research Board Is Back. Here's Why That Matters
Defunct for years, the National Board for Education Sciences has new members and new priorities.
2 min read
Image of a conference table.
Federal Opinion NAEP Needs to Be Kept at Arm’s Length From Politics
It’s in all our interests to ensure NAEP releases are buffered from political considerations and walled off from political appointees.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Feds Emphasize Legal Protections for Pregnant or Recently Pregnant Students, Employees
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new resource summary related to pregnancy discrimination in schools.
2 min read
Young girl checking her pregnancy test, sitting on beige couch at home.
iStock/Getty Images Plus