Rice, Klein: Education keeps America safe
Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein say improving education is key to America's leadership and national security.
March 20th, 2012
06:59 PM ET

Rice, Klein: Education keeps America safe

Editor's note: Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice lead the Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. Klein served as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, where he oversaw a system of more than 1,600 schools with 1.1 million students. He is CEO of the Education Division at News Corp. Rice served as the 66th U.S. secretary of State from 2005-2009. She is a professor at Stanford University (where she also served as provost) and a founding partner of The RiceHadley Group.

By Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein - Special to CNN

The United States is an exceptional nation. As a people, we are not bound by blood, nationality, ethnicity or religion. Instead, we are connected by the core belief that it does not matter where you came from; it matters only where you are going. This belief is what makes our country unique. It is also what makes education critically important, more so today than ever.

While our political leanings may be different, our careers have taught us that education is inextricably linked to the strength of this country and our leadership in the international community.

Today, globalization and the technological sophistication of our economy are widening already troubling socioeconomic disparities, rewarding those who acquire the right skills and punishing brutally those who do not. Much is at stake.

It is not hyperbole to say that the state of education in our country is a challenge to our national security. Human capital has never been more important for success in our increasingly competitive world economy. Yet, although the United States invests more in education than almost any other developed nation, its students rank in the middle of the pack in reading and toward the bottom in math and science. On average, U.S. students have fallen behind peers in Korea and China, Poland and Canada and New Zealand. This puts us on a trajectory toward massive failure.

Read on here.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. jal

    Ideally, it keeps America safe. In reality, there is a growing belief that higher education may be a waste of time. I believe in higher education. However, more and more employers today are not honoring the college degree. Many folks without a college degree call it a “piece of paper”, as it can become a source of contention in the workplace.

    March 20, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Reply
    • jal

      Outsourcing jobs in the manufacturing sector, for example, lowers the demand for college-trained engineers. This effectively turns their degree, into a “ piece of paper.”

      March 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Reply
  2. George Patton

    Unfortunately, there will always be right-wing fanatics around who'll try to use our schools to brainwash our children into their way of seeing things. Does anyone hrer remember what happened in Texas two years ago when the Board of Education there decided to rewrite the history books for their students? This will go on and on and the younger generation will have an increasingly distorted view of the world around them!!!

    March 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Thank you, George. I couldn't have said it better. The GOP is trying to brainwash out children the same way the Nazis did in Germany back in the 1930's. Every country has it's right-wing fanatics, unfortunately.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
    • PortlandJoe

      What? Right wing brainwashing in schools? That's a good one because it's the left agenda taking over in our schools when it comes to anti-capitalism, free contraceptives, gay agenda, green causes and organics, and matters of separation of church and state. These are all left causes which have taken the forefront in our schools. Please pick a cause of the right which is dominating in our schools and post it. It would be interesting to see what you come up with compared to the left.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:00 am | Reply
      • Patrick

        Joe, you are not talking to Americans, you are talking to Al Qaeda trying to pretend to be human beings.

        March 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  3. j. von hettlingen

    Much of Condoleezza Rice's worldviews dominate the above – her preferences out of national, military and strategic point of view.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:46 am | Reply
    • Ann

      Yes, and based on the belief that America is exceptional with of course exceptional people. Maybe we all have an A gene? (Scary, to start of with... we are all better than others...) What a worldview! Then, the normative assessment that it does not matter what ethnicity one has in our wonderful country. Please, a young soldier just hanged himself, because he was mobbed by his seemingly "more acceptable, more American" peers. How unfortunated for him to have been of Chinese descent. I have great respect for Mrs. Rice´s and Mr. Klein´s achievements, and public service. However, the statement "connected by the core belief that it does not matter where you came from; it matters only where you are going" may be a nice ideal, which is far from the truth in our country right now. I have served my country for many years in DOD, and can attest to the fact that at least in this environment... it is not so. Especially, when one has the INTELLIGENCE to figure out, that many issues as portrait by politicians are not correct as stated. Intelligent individuals ask uncomfortable questions. It does not appear to me that my goverment, in particular during the last Bush administration, wanted people who questioned. Thus, while I agree with the bottom line of the article, I am almost exasperated by the authors making their assessment NOW. Maybe I am just confused... P.S. No, I am not a Democrat. Very Respectfully...

      March 24, 2012 at 9:20 am | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    Rice's recommendations are sound. If the U.S. wants to keep its global standing, it needs highly qualified and capable men and women.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:47 am | Reply
    • Marine5484

      Quite right, j. von hettlingen. The right-wing fanatics in Washington want to become dominant everywhere these days so they need highly educated people for that end!

      March 21, 2012 at 9:42 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      oh stop already, the two of you are making me laugh. Sure you are Americans. And, I still believe in Santa Claus.

      March 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  5. Benedict

    I wonder why that is so?!

    March 21, 2012 at 5:50 am | Reply
    • Patrick

      Go ask your imam.

      March 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  6. pmcdonald

    "As a people, we are not bound by blood, nationality,"

    Well, Americans are bound by nationality. They have American nationality. It doesn't make sense. Moreover from a very early age Americans are indoctrinated to become very patriotic. Think old glories in the schoolroom. Similar to what might be seen in a developing nation.

    For those who are keen on a multipolar world, the GOP education policy (i.e. education is not beneficial and in fact may be dangerous since it could make people critical of religion) will be great.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:16 am | Reply
    • Ann

      Patriotism includes questionine your government for the good of all. Nationalism is blindly waving a flag not questioning why. Do we educate Patriots or Nationalist?

      March 24, 2012 at 9:23 am | Reply
      • Patrick

        Fatmah, you do not live in the USA.
        Therefore, you have no idea the real meaning of patriotism.
        America's government has checks to ensure the truth.
        People can ask questions of their government in America unlike the sandpit you come from where questions lead to your head being chopped off, or, since you state you are female, you would be stoned.

        March 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  7. PortlandJoe

    Take a look at the world's #1 country in education, Finland. In their country a teacher is considered the most highest and honorable occupation. In our country, it's military, police and firemen which I have no problem with AT ALL, but I do think teacher should be shoulder to shoulder with them. The best in those fields are also very educated and well trained which is what we need to see more of in our schools. Teachers need to be held to a standard; they need to be well funded, well compensated, and honored as the builders of our nation. Keep politics out of schools, no left-wing or right-wing agendas, just teach.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
    • Michelle Miranda

      thank you Portland Joe. Two of my kids are teachers and I know how hard they studied and they continue to update their skills and education. They deserve to be honored by society as well as their proud mother.

      March 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  8. Fatih Koc

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    March 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Reply
  9. bigsur

    A big factor that is often neglected in hindering education performance is the student. Like the article says "the United States invests more in education than almost any other developed nation.", we've already thrown money at the schools. Teacher certification/credential and education curriculm have been the same if not more rigorous through the decades. As an example my parents were not require to take trigonometry/pre calculus or a foreign language like i did in a high school in the late 90's. The fact is very few people(politicians, parents, community activists) are ready to admit some kids are uninterested in school or too dumb to finish high school, yet they are required by law to be in school. Even if we were to implement Klein/Rice plans of educational core standards, more school options and performance audits, if will be all for naught if the student is not putting in the academic effort which is never monitored by any school, state or federal agency. As long it is politically correct to blame teachers and dumb down schools for their children's dismal performance, they will continue to be used as scapegoats for u.s. students' academic decline.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Reply

      True and totally irrelevant. Comparing total education spending with what other nations which usually have smaller populations and less wealth do is an unreal measurement. It's like assuming that there are no ghettos, or places in America with substandard housing based upon the median or average value of a single family home. However high one may think education spending is, it does not mean that most or even all schools are either adequately funded, equally well funded, or "over' funded. Actual spending on individual schools and on programs varies enormously from school to school even within school districts. Over the years, I've noticed that most of those who believe that education spending is excessive don't want austerity at their schools or for their children. They are almost always talking about the undeserving children of others in the schools across town or across the county line. Unenlightened self interest (selfishness?) always trumps wise use or shared use of "scarce" resources. No, overworked teachers are not the sole problem. On the other hand, children are what we make them, not the other way around. The vast majority of children are born as blank slates with infinite curiosity. Within a few years of exposure to our "education" system that natural curiosity has been permanently destroyed in many of them. I don't believe in "accidents" of this magnitude.

      March 25, 2012 at 7:28 am | Reply
  10. Old Man Clark

    If the current trend continues, many of our young kids won't get a high quality education. Every year we see teachers getting laid off, classes cut and more crowded classrooms. The Republicans and the so-called "blue-dog" Democrats want to throw that money to the Pentagon for more useless military spending. This country's degenerating into a right-wing military state and something needs to be done about it!

    March 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
    • Patrick

      "kids"are baby goats, you know, like you.

      March 24, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
  11. Michelle Miranda

    I read this article a couple of days ago and it stuck with me. I'll be sharing it with my children who are educators.

    March 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply

    Yet another bizarre take on the "importance" of education from the conservative wing of America's "best and brightest." Apparently education is just another commodity with no value of its own, unless it can be defined as being "important to national security." I sometimes wonder if everyone in government sees the rest of the (non-
    Western) world as a threat, and spends all their time in office running scared.

    March 25, 2012 at 7:02 am | Reply
  13. Raul Santiago

    It would probably help if kids weren't exposed to so much crap on TV. Computers, TV's, smartphones, gaming systems...kids spend more time on these than they do anything else. That and maybe also stop treating schools like diploma mills. Public schools are like assembly lines these days. They're just mass producing students. As long as the primary focus is the money the kid can bring into the school from federal and state funding, quality education will always take a back seat.

    March 25, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Reply
  14. Ann

    Patrick, I think Mrs. Rice just wrote an article about you.

    March 26, 2012 at 2:41 am | Reply
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