The Public Interest

American education: how are we doing?

Barbara Lerner

Fall 1982

IDEOLOGICAL answers to the question posed by the title of this article have proliferated in recent decades, but adequate, integrated summaries of the vast accumulation of relevant empirical data have not kept pace, making it difficult to form independent judgments. This article is an attempt to make it less difficult by reviewing and reanalyzing available data on four of the most important questions about American education: How adequate are our educational resources and how fairly are they allocated? What are the cognitive achievement levels of our students in comparison to those of their foreign peers today and their domestic counterparts of yesteryear? What was the effect of open, versus traditional, schools on our students? And how has the American public assessed American education in recent decades?

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