Almost 12 years after the landmark federal study ``A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform'' warned darkly of the ``rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future,'' we remain a nation at risk. We are a nation, that is, whose 13-year-olds have average math skills that rank below those in 14 other developed countries, according to one 1991 study. We are a nation whose college professors complain that before they can teach the classics, they must teach the basics. And while nearly all American adults can read and write at a basic level, according to a 1993 Educational...

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