America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future
- Kirsch, Irwin; Braun, Henry; Yamamoto, Kentaro; Sum, Andrew
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- Achievement gaps skill levels reading math wage gaps demographics socio-economic status
Our nation is in the midst of a perfect storm, and the forecast is grim—unless we invest in policies that will change our perilous course. This report looks at the convergence of three powerful sociological and economical forces that are changing our nation's future: substantial disparities in skill levels (reading and math), seismic economic changes (widening wage gaps), sweeping demographic shifts (less education, lower skills). There is little chance that economic opportunities will improve among key segments of our population if we follow our current path. To date, educational reform has not been sufficient to solve the problem. National test results show no evidence of improvement over the last 20 years. Scores are flat and achievement gaps persist. Hope for a better life—with decent jobs and livable wages—will vanish unless we act now. We must raise our learning levels, increase our reading and math skills and narrow the existing achievement gaps, or these forces will turn the American Dream into an American Tragedy—putting our nation at risk.