National Security Through Quality Education

Image of Secretary Duncan and General George Casey in a Classroom

Secretary Duncan and Army Chief of Staff General George Casey speak to JROTC cadets at North Middle School, Radcliff, Kentucky

What do national security, military readiness, and education have in common?  It turns out that national security and quality education are closely tied together.  A recent study found that 75% of America’s youth are NOT qualified to join the Armed Forces.  This could have serious effects on America’s ability to defend itself.

Secretary Duncan and ED have been working to address this national security problem by committing to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and a career. Secretary Duncan continued that commitment earlier today when he joined Army Chief of Staff General George Casey in Radliff, Kentucky to help launch Project PASS, a new program to help put middle school students on the track to earning their high school diploma. (See photos.)

Project PASS is a new partnership between the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), the U.S. Army, and community leaders from around the country.  The initiative applies tenets of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) to middle schools in order to reduce dropout rates, increase citizenship, academics, and community and school service.

Read more about Project Pass.


  1. The challenge for quality education graduating students who are prepared for society and to be the next generation to lead our great country is not in any weaknesses of our public school, teachers, or curriculum. The challenge is lack of good parenting and a societal belief among many of our youth and adults that education and hard work to achieve it are not critical components in life. In many countries who have much higher academic achievement levels than the U.S., the only major difference is that their societies, including most of their youth, understand the importance of education and working hard to get it. Their schools and teachers are not any better than ours but the attitudes of the students and parents as demonstrated by their actions, not just words is what makes the difference. Every school in our country has strong students and weak students and the only real difference, except for those with learning disabilities, is their attitude towards education. Any plan to truly improve education in this country must deal head on with this weakness for this is the true center of gravity in this issue. The elements of leadership, responsibility, hard work, and good character that JROTC strives to instill can help attack this challenge. For those who have served this country in the military, I encourage you to go into or help with the education of our youth bacause the biggest threat to the long term survival of our nation isn’t from an outside power but from a long term decline of the qualities that built and has sutained our great nation.

  2. A good solution to this problem would be to evaluate and pay teachers according to their students’ test scores. Then, the school year would be spent teaching students test prep skills and repetitively drilling test practice questions. This would reduce critical thinking skills and creativity. Students would cease to be viewed as valuable individuals with individual strengths and interests. Instead, they would become numbers and be taught without regard to their individuality. A plan like this would most assuredly create the quality of education needed to ensure national security. Oh wait! This is what the Dept. of Ed already plans to do. Now why didn’t I think of that first?

  3. Why is it that so many young people today are not qualified to enter the armed forces? Just thank the U.S. Department of Education, state departments of education and school districts as a whole. Simply put, they misuse teaching talent and resources in the worst ways.

    Right now, far too many competent or qualified teachers, teacher applicants and substitutes are forced to take assignments that are out-of-field. Often, districts fail to properly utilize each person’s skills and talents.

    For instance, physical science educators are forced to serve as baby sitters in classes unrelated to physical science or mathematics because a government bureaucrat has insisted we focus on statistics and sub-groups.

    The mathematics and science educators’ futures are turned upside down in ways that are unnatural, demeaning and intolerable. The long term damage to underserved student populations from this “widget effect” management of teaching resources is immeasurable.

    Tweaking the No Child Left Behind Act will not address these widespread misappropriations of human resources.

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