If having an educated population is a prerequisite for national greatness in the 21st Century, then the United States is in serious, serious trouble.

From 10 percent to as many as 20 percent of this country’s population are classified as functionally illiterate. The high schools can’t keep our youth in the classrooms long enough to make them literate. The high school dropout rate has reached 30 percent.

“We have to recognize there are roughly 7 billion people in the world, half of whom make less than $2 a day,” House Science and Technology Sub-Committee Chairman Bart Gordon, (D-Tenn.), said in a statement. “We cannot and would not want to compete with that. We have to compete at a higher level with a better equipped and skilled workforce than that of our global counterparts.”


In Japan, the Netherlands, Hungary, England, France, Scotland and Finland, students consistently score higher in international mathematics achievement comparisons than students in this country. And, of course, Blacks and Latinos lag behind the national average.

But increasingly, year after year, this country performs relatively poorer on the world economic stage than the year before, even though President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” legislation has been the law of the land for nearly five years.

According to one study, since the enactment of ‘No Child Left Behind,’ test-score improvement among 4th graders in 12 states has fallen off in reading and slowed in math.

The report cites National Assessment of Educational Progress scores reflecting a virtual halt to progress in closing racial achievement gaps in reading since the federal law was signed in 2002. “In fact, after No Child Left Behind, earlier progress made by the states actually petered out,” said lead author Bruce Fuller, a professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and the director of the Policy Analysis for California Education research center based at Berkeley and Stanford University.

Education today is not nearly as important as it was to people born in the 1930s and 1940s. “True education gives us power to remove impediments in the pathway of our progress,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said in a statement, convening The Million Family March. The United States education system has strayed far from that path.

“If America does not wake up and recognize the consequences of perpetuating the current system of education, then the country’s fate is sealed,” Min. Farrakhan wrote in “A Torchlight for America.” “If America is unwilling to destroy the old system of education in order to create a new system of education, then America’s status as a world power will quickly fade away in a generation or so.

“The problem in today’s education is that the root motivation is the acquisition of wealth and material things, rather than the cultivation of the human spirit,” said Min. Farrakhan.

It is clear that we need a new educational system in order to produce a new civilization. Allah (God) has to be the head of the new educational system. As the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad writes in The Fall of America: “We, the Black, people want an educational system that will bring us into unity as man before Allah (God). We want an educational system that we can read in the light of ancient or modern history. We want an educational system that will guide us through tomorrow–not an educational system that is dying today.”

With this model as the foundation, we can all participate through more parental and community involvement; more church, mosque and temple involvement must be present in education to instill righteous principles. Teachers must be compensated commensurate with their value to society in preparing our youth for the future.

Schools should have dress codes and/or school uniforms in order to counter the rampant materialism and sexism in the society.

Finally, schools need to establish Manhood and Womanhood training to nurture our children into responsible adulthood.

All members of the family and children in particular, must be given an opportunity to learn in a supportive, safe and productive educational environment. This is the path to true educational equality of opportunity, which this country must pursue, if it wants a prosperous future. To otherwise deny children an opportunity to achieve and acquire education is to deny children their human rights and bring an end to the civilization.