chapter  6
14 Pages

The Drama of Schooling: The Formation of A People

The well publicized report, A Nation at Risk, alarmed the nation by warning that if a foreign power wanted so to weaken our nation that it would easily succumb to foreign domination, it could do no better than what the schools had been doing for the past several years.1 The report was referring to the decline of academic achievement in literacy, mathematics and science which, the report maintained, were necessary to maintain America's competitive edge in world economics. That report can be faulted on many grounds (a spurious use of declining achievement scores to excuse decades of poor business decisions by American corporations; a simple-minded linking of schooling to the exclusive interests of Corporate America, etc.), but its primary weakness is its total neglect of the school's responsibility to develop political literacy, political imagination, and political will. The authors of the report simply reflected the political perspective of the dominant party at the time, which indeed saw economic competition and economic productivity as the central political issue.2