American education is in crisis. Many public schools fail to provide the training necessary to succeed in a modern, global economy. Meanwhile, Catholic schools, traditionally the bastions of excellent academic and moral formation, suffer from funding shortages and lack of mission clarity. While these problems have many dimensions and require reform on many fronts, historian and education policy analyst Kevin Schmiesing identifies the overarching challenge as reinvigorating parental initiative and responsibility in schooling.
America has a hybrid system of private schools increasingly off-limits to the working and even middle classes and state schools plagued by inefficiencies, inequities, and in some cases, abject failure. By no means does this generalization denigrate the good work that thousands of educators in both private and public systems do every day. Some religious schools strive ardently to keep open the prospect of a first-rate education for students of poor parents and challenging backgrounds. Some public schools provide outstanding academic and extracurricular opportunities for their students. Yet, too many students are, despite political rhetoric and flawed legislation, “left behind.”