Ronald Reagan did not believe that Washington could do much to solve our nation’s most pressing social problems. Except, it seems, when it came to education. The Great Gipper was among the first to understand the scope of our nation’s education crisis, and his administration pushed for the federal government to take a bigger role in making sure that all students achieved at high levels. And if today’s GOP really wants to improve our public education system, they should take note.
To be sure, when Reagan first ran for office in 1980, he sounded a lot like today’s Republican party on education issues. Reagan promised to roll back the federal role in education and abolish the Department of Education, calling the agency “President Carter’s new bureaucratic boondoggle.”
But soon after coming into office, Reagan almost completely switched his position. The reason was simple: In 1984, a federal commission released “A Nation at Risk,” a scathing report that documented the failure of our education system.
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The above excerpt was originally published in The Hill's Congress Blog.
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