We are now nearly four decades beyond the publication of A Nation at Risk, a federal report that indicted the “rising tide of mediocrity” and initiated a well-deserved period of hand-wringing about K-12 public education in the United States. Massachusetts was the only state to respond to the call to create a school system that would be among the best in the world. Sadly, now even the Bay State is retreating from the policies that delivered its historic success.
The landmark Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, which was entirely state-led, pushed academic content and high standards over the Bush I and Clinton administrations’ agenda of K-12 education as merely workforce development training. Today, however, Beltway-driven initiatives like the Obama administration’s Common Core State Standards,