The Problem

Our great nation needs—and deserves—great schools for all its children. That’s particularly true today, when a strong education is a precondition for economic success.

Yet too many American children receive a mediocre or worse education because too many of our schools and school systems are complacent or dysfunctional. This situation is most dire for our neediest students, who generally lack high-quality education options. But almost everyone could be learning much more than they are today. As a result, American teenagers trail our international competitors, and many emerge from our K–12 system ill prepared for what comes next. Our lackluster schools are one major reason that upward mobility in America has stalled, that economic vitality is in jeopardy, and that our culture is coarse and fragmented. Just as importantly, our schools are failing to prepare tomorrow’s citizens for successful, informed self-governance in a thriving democracy.

We’ve seen modest progress in academic outcomes since the U.S. was declared a “nation at risk” in 1983, evidence that broad-scale reforms can and do make a difference. Still, we have a long way to go to create an education system worthy of the nation we want to be.

The Fordham Institute's Mission

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute (and its affiliated Foundation) promote educational excellence for every child in America via quality research, analysis, and commentary, as well as advocacy and exemplary charter school authorizing in Ohio.

We advance:

  • High standards, strong assessments of student learning, and common-sense accountability for schools and children across the achievement spectrum;
  • Quality education options and high-quality school-performance information for every family; and
  • A student-centered system that provides clear pathways to upward mobility, good citizenship, and successful participation in adult society.

We promote education reform by:

  • Producing relevant, rigorous policy research and analysis;
  • Providing “thought leadership” to policy makers, philanthropists, advocacy groups, and others through timely and persuasive commentary;
  • Advocating sound education policies in Ohio related to standards, assessments, school choice, and other promising reforms;
  • Serving as a model charter school authorizer and sharing our lessons throughout and beyond Ohio; and
  • Incubating new ideas, innovations, organizations, school models, and visionary leaders to advance education excellence.