Education has a different meaning to different people. To some it is simply what is learned at school, to others it is everything that is learned. Ryan and Cooper define education in Those Who Can, Teach as "the process by which humans develop their minds, their skills, and their character. It is a lifelong process marked by continual development and change" (546). Keeping Ryan and Cooper's definition of education in mind, when dealing with education reform we must consider other aspects, such as assessment, technology and character education to name a few, as well as curriculum. .
Many people in the United States believe our education system is in crisis (Ryan and Cooper, 440). Drop-out rates at the ninth grade level are at an alarmingly high rate as are levels after ninth grade, and illiteracy among adults has risen to almost twenty-five million people (Ryan and Cooper, 440). Many school districts are in debt, creating instability and lowering standards. Low budgets mean schools do not have the ability, such as metal detectors or surveillance to keep students and teachers safe. Many districts are also behind in keeping up with our ever changing American and global society with out of date textbooks and instructional material. The need for reform is evident.
In the early 1980s the Reagan administration was doing everything in its power to alleviate educational responsibility from the federal government. They proposed deep cuts in the federal education budgets, and wanted to eliminate major programs (Toch, 23). The United States Department of Education was in danger of being eliminated all .
together. President Reagan proposed tax credits to parents for sending their children to private school and wanted to present vouchers to those who could not afford private school, both proposals removing even more money from public schools. The Reagan administration went so far with cuts in education as to propose that the free-lunch and reduced lunch programs count ketchup as a vegetable (Toch, 23).