I have had the privilege—and crazy schedule—of attending several education conferences over the past few weeks where heard a lot about the Common Core. The standards are top of mind for so many people, so I've come to expect that. What I had not expected was to hear about a new angle that raises another alarm as to why we must so urgently work to serve our nation's young students. At separate conferences, from separate speakers, including Sec. of Education Arne Duncan and Bill Daggett, I was informed that we are at risk of 70% or more of our students not being eligible to join the U.S. Military.
Through my research, I see this statistic isn't necessarily new, but there is a new focus. Past conversations about this have focused on health and obesity being key roadblocks to opportunities within the military. At the recent talks I attended, health and incarceration were cited as reasons many youth cannot enlist (which, by the way, could be curbed by education, as some studies show) but this time around, the key factor they focused on was education. The first 30 or so percent we lose are the high school dropouts in our country. The military has also increasingly been requiring a diploma, not just the GED. Plus, literacy levels are more crucial than ever because, as technology advances, so do the reading requirements to operate machinery. I thought that point was especially interesting.
Condoleezza Rice has been part of this conversation and I found this past PBS interview which may interest you.
In many ways, I don't want to hear yet another reason why we need to urgently help our schools—because there are already so many out there! But, if this opens a new dialogue that increases attention from new audiences it might be helpful.