Thirty-five years ago this month, the National Commission on Excellence in Education released A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform—a transformative report that has helped reshape education policy over the past four decades.
At the Walton Family Foundation, where I lead the K–12 Education Program, we think of Nation at Risk as the moment in which our strategy—founded in the two enduring ideas of choice and accountability—was conceived. And so we take the occasion of its thirty-fifth anniversary as a moment to pause and reflect—both on how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.
Today, hundreds of thousands of children living in low-income communities are in new kinds of schools—private schools, public charter schools, traditional district schools—that are succeeding in a manner that is widespread and pervasive, proving beyond any doubt that quality schools at scale are possible for every child in every neighborhood.
When we think about the ‘new basics’ that were highlighted in A Nation at Risk, we should look to these schools—full of classrooms where students are developing skills for continuous learning and educators that are innovating and fostering creativity.
These are the types of schools that the National Commission on Excellence...