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Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce Paperback – March 28, 2008
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—Norman R. Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Chairman, The National Academies Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century
"This penetrating, scary analysis and astute, far-reaching recommendations amount to A Nation at Risk for the next generation, a brave, clear call for top-to-bottom reforms in U.S. education . . . . Tough Choices sketches a bold and efficient new vehicle for equipping 21st century Americans with the skills and knowledge they will need—and that the nation needs."
—Chester E. Finn Jr., Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation
"Bold, inventive, analytic, and piercing, the report's recommendations stand to make a huge difference in how America thinks about and enacts its educational enterprise for all—including its youngest—students."
—Sharon Lynn Kagan, Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy,Teachers College, Columbia University, and Codirector, The National Center for Children and Families
"Tough Choices or Tough Times is must reading . . . . The Commission advances thought-provoking recommendations that should stimulate debate and then galvanize every sector of society . . . to muster the will and the wherewithal to ensure that America's workforce is the best educated and prepared in the world."
—Hugh Price, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and Former President, National Urban League
"[O]ur students are falling further behind and the people of this nation do not seem to be alarmed. This report lays out the kind of drastic change to the system that is crucial if we are to remain a viable economic and political leader in the world."
—David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education, Massachusetts --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The Commission describes how US universities continue to be the best in the world, but grade schools and high schools have fallen behind. In the 20th century the US pioneered universal education, and received an influx of talent, from scientists fleeing Germany before World War II to a more recent influx of Asian students, who stayed and worked here. But now, other countries have passed us in pre-university education and many foreign students are going back to their own countries after graduating.
"A Nation at Risk" came out in 1983, saying "If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre education performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war." The Tough Choices Commission points out that since then we've had a more than doubling of spending on education (inflation adjusted) with only modest improvement. The Commission concludes that the main improvement, standards testing, turns out to be misguided because it is multiple choice, not essay, and thus doesn't teach the creative, out of the box thinking needed for the US to maintain its lead.Read more ›
The report recommends raising teacher salaries to attract the best and brightest, i.e. those who would otherwise be doctors, lawyers, and other ambitious career professionals, by doing away with current teacher-retirement systems in favor of higher up-front cash rewards and 401(k) packages. Astonishingly, the NEA and other powerful teacher unions are opposed to this. But the fact is our schools are failing us, in part, because teachers are not treated like professionals. Yes, there are plenty of attractive benefits to teaching already, like summers off and seniority-based salary schedules. But the trade-off is that many teachers are willing to give up intellectual authority over their profession and allow themselves to be infantilized by condescending educrats. This is a Faustian bargain, and it's time to break it.
If the commission's compensation plan were implemented, more young and bright professionals would be drawn to the classroom, and they'd (hopefully) stay there rather than hopscotching up to an administrative desk job as soon as they could.Read more ›
The report is a thorough, strong, and incisive analysis of the extent to which American dominance in education worldwide has eroded along with our dominance in economics and market competitiveness. Moreover, despite some minor weaknesses in the report caused by its attempt to predict the global future and its occasional political caution, it should launch a national dialogue on our public education system.
[from my column in "The Sunday Paper" (Atlanta, GA)]
--Dr. Robert Zaslavsky, author of the recently published "The First Latin Course"
Unlike the Commission Report in 1990, which recommended that we improve our high technology skills and accept as inevitable the movement of low-skill jobs to global competitors, the current Commission draws our attention to the fact that we are losing high-skill jobs to global competitors as well. Such losses are projected to grow geometrically if we fail to act with an integrated whole system response.
The Commission recommends a major overhaul of American education to include how we define needs, develop curriculum, attract and retain world class teachers, focus scarce resources, assess stakeholders, and finance public education. All familiar words, I know, but the devil or angel, if you will, is in the details. Let's look at some of the most important.
Noting the poor scores made by U.S. students on international tests and the prospect that we will lose our leadership position in fields that require exemplary abilities in mathematical reasoning; scientific concepts; writing; creativity and innovation; self-discipline and organization; and teamwork, the Commission calls for regional economic development authorities. These authorities would be responsible for coordinating with existing institutions to develop goals and strategies that would serve as guides for local decisions and channel resources where initiatives contributed to the achievement of such goals and strategies.
The Commission calls for significant changes in school governance.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The report was critical of the educational system because students are graduating with an eight grade reading and writing level but the report was barely written on an eighth grade... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Gayla Jackson
It was written in a retrospective and futuristic manner!Policy makers should read this! Easy to understand and an awareness on globalization of education.Published on September 19, 2013 by Masita Misdi
As a father of two young children about to enter school, I picked up this book hoping to get some insight into the state of American education, trends and reforms in the making,... Read morePublished on May 30, 2011 by Newton Ooi
This an excellent book that is thought provoking as our world and how we do business is becoming more global. I believe we need to re-think how we want to educate our children. Read morePublished on May 14, 2010 by TLee
As far as I can tell, this is a very intersting book filled with very good, concrete, and implementable suggestions on how to revamp our public schools. Read morePublished on April 8, 2009 by Kevin Currie-Knight
One of the best, if not the best book I have seen on the state of education in the USA. It should be a wake-up call to educators and parents, grandparents, and anyone who is... Read morePublished on February 13, 2008 by Dixie
This is an interesting and important document from a group who have had considerable influence on education policy. Read morePublished on February 19, 2007 by Arnold H. Packer