In 2011, world financial markets and elected leaders more or less avoided the U.S. debt ceiling cliff. At the end of the 2012 calendar year, the so-called fiscal cliff awaits, subject to a short-term or long-term detour created by a seemingly less-than-creative U.S. Congress. Yet, it seems another cliff is appearing on the horizon, a cliff receiving little or no attention like the iceberg that sank the Titanic.
During the last five decades of my observing the U.S. electorate, hopefully filtered through increasingly critical thinking and emotional intelligence, it seems that two foundational elements of the U.S. system of governance are eroding. Historically, the keys to effective U.S. governance have been an informed and educated electorate. These two crucial characteristics depend on a free press and an effective public education system, two factors that seem increasingly ineffective.
Test scores and other indicators of comparative educational performance show the U.S. collective student body continuing a long decline compared to their colleagues in other countries. This decline appears systemic and may point to a simultaneous decline in the absolute performance of U.S. students and improved test scores by their counterparts elsewhere in the world. Teachers and their unions may be too easy a target for blame. Ineffective teachers need to improve or seek new careers, but many teachers in the U.S. lack lack appropriate and necessary instructional resources and parental support to meet societal expectations.