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A Dismal Picture of our Nation's Education System

The Associated Press reports that 23 percent of recent high school graduates nationwide can’t pass the Army’s entrance exam. Figures varied widely by state. In Colorado, for example, the figure was less than 20 percent while Hawaii had an ineligibility rate of almost 40 percent. The exam consists of basic math, science and reading questions. To make matters even worse, the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard all require a higher passing score than the Army does.
The Education Trust, a children’s advocacy group, says that the study examined scores of 350,000 high school graduates, ages 17 through 20, who took the Army entrance test between 2004 and 2009. This is the first time the Army has publicly released this test data.
Equally alarming is the fact that 75 percent of applicants, 17 to 24 years of age, don’t even qualify to take the test because of physical unfitness, a criminal record, or failure to graduate from high school.
As one might expect, both educators and the Defense Department expressed concern that our nation’s high schools are turning out graduates who can’t pass such a relatively easy test of basic skills. And while current recruitment goals are being met, there is a potential for a decline in our military readiness, according to the group Mission: Readiness, a coalition of retired military leaders.
Irrespective of one’s views on the political issue of whether or not the U.S. needs a large military presence in today’s world, it is nevertheless a sad commentary on our education system that it apparently requires less knowledge to graduate from high school than it does to get into the Army. If this is true, as it appears to be, what kind of civilian labor force can we reasonably expect?
As a first step in attempting to solve the problems, shouldn’t we all demand higher standards from our school boards, school administrators and teachers? Or should the Army just make its entrance exam easier? Just a perverse thought.