Remembering the "Forgotten Half"
In recent years, we have repeatedly been forced to confront a troubling picture of declining knowledge and skills among the young people of the U.S., particularly those who do not attend college. These youths, who come increasingly from the poor and minority populations, were christened the "forgotten half" in the 1988 report released by the William T. Grant Foundation Commission on Work, Family, and Citizenship. The commission characterized the forgotten half as "the young people who build our homes, drive our buses, repair our automobiles, fix our televisions, maintain and serve our...
Allegations about the low performance of U.S. students compared to their counterparts in other nations repeatedly surface in the media. For example, in a recent survey by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), the U.S. ranked 15th in science in a field of 17 nations. This low showing internationally is now accepted by policy makers and repeated as part of the conventional wisdom. Business leaders point with alarm to the declining skills of the labor force and proclaim that the U.S. economy will lose out to Asian and European competitors. There may...