September 19, 2023

LeadershipLimited Government

How are Government School’s Failing Students?

By: Marcos Lopez

In a post-COVID world where the very foundation of education is being questioned, “Mediocrity: 40 Ways Government Schools are Failing Today’s Students sheds a glaring light on the systemic issues plaguing our nation’s schools. Connor Boyack and Corey DeAngelis have compiled over 200 pages of evidence highlighting the educational crisis engulfing our nation.

Boyack and DeAngelis are no strangers in the fight for school choice, and their first collaboration together, “Mediocrity”, showcases their keen knowledge in an easily digestible format. They meld research with real world examples, to form a compelling narrative about the horrid state of education in America. This book will resonate with everyone, from parents of school-aged children to education policy wonks. 

Most interesting to me is that “Mediocrity” opens and closes with references to a 1983 United States National Commission on Excellence in Education, report I hadn’t heard of prior: A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform. It was quite shocking to learn that forty years ago alarm bells were rung to largely deaf ears. The book then proceeds to pose a simple question: forty years after the publication of “A Nation at Risk” is the state of education better or worse? Other than some enriched union bosses and administrators, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who would agree with the former.

Tackling this question head-on, Boyack and DeAngelis make their intentions clear: this is not a book detailing the solutions to our education system (school choice). Instead, it is a chronicle of the rot permeating through the system. From slipping test scores to the rising influence of wokeism, “Mediocrity” connects the reader to real-world examples highlighting what many Americans already suspect: the government monopoly on education is failing our country, our communities, and worst of all, its students. 

The authors do an exemplary job detailing the rise of “factory model” schooling to the inertia in a system resistant to change. They masterfully expose the lengths unions will use students as political pawns and the stagnation in a bureaucratic system designed to teach to the lowest common denominator. Despite it being a book tackling head on the shortcomings of our education system, you can’t help but hear the optimism seeping through the passages. There is a subtle hopefulness and inspiring tone that we are not condemned to endure this mediocrity.

Personally, I found the book informative and enlightening, containing a treasure trove of timely sources to refer to at my next confrontation before a government committee on education. This book is a must-read for education activists wanting to hone their understanding of the challenges plaguing government schools in the 21st century.

Some of the book’s revelations—especially those about left-wing agendas pushed by teachers’ unions—will infuriate even the most stoic advocates in the educational freedom movement. Former Education Secretary Betsy Devos puts it best in her foreword, “Mediocrity is a call to arms”. I challenge anyone who believes “education is our future” to read it and not come away gung-ho to demand change.