By Susan Engel, Salon, April 18, 2015
Between 1848, when Andrew Carnegie arrived in Pennsylvania, and 1983, when “A Nation at Risk” was published, schools had made a 180-degree turn. No longer a privilege and a respite from work, formal education had become a necessity, considered essential to individual success. What had once been a luxury for those who could afford enlightenment was, by the second half of the twentieth century, a requirement for anyone who hoped to get a job and earn a decent wage. Schools were no longer a path to cultivation and a life of the mind; they were a path to a job. And that was just in terms of the individual. Along the way, as schools became a training ground for corps of workers, they also became a means of furthering national interests. The debate about schools had become part of the debate about national power. Which brings us to the twenty-first century.
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