A Window on the Past: 1892 Committee of Ten

In 1892 the Committee of Ten (university educators) under the auspices of the National Education Association recommended the following subjects for a secondary curriculum for all students:

Latin, Greek, English, modern languages, mathematics, sciences, natural history, history (including economics and government), and geography.

If I ran a private secondary school, these are the subjects that I would expect the students to master. My only problem would be finding teachers who were qualified to teach these areas.


There are too many students who graduate from our secondary schools (both public and private) who cannot read, write or do math on the college level. Roughly, 60% of high school graduates who go to college have to take remedial courses which carry no academic credit toward graduation.

Science knowledge is abysmal. How many high school graduates have read Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life?

Understand what Euclidean Geometry is? Know what Π – pi is?

History has been misplaced somewhere in the archives of obscurity along with Latin and Greek. “Not knowing what happened before you were born is to be stuck in childhood forever. What does a person’s life amount to without the historical consciousness that weaves one’s life into the life of earlier generations?” Cicero, Orator XXXIV

How sad that geography and civics are lost subjects in today’s society. Watching Jeopardy as an educator is a bitter cup of herb tea without the honey or Agave syrup.

Economics-what can one say? Does Adam Smith’s “THE WEALTH OF NATIONS” ring a bell?

Education is more than just learning dates and facts to recite on a test. It is an experience which becomes like a second shadow to the student who moves from adolescent to adulthood.


Because one graduates from high school (secondary) does not mean that they are ready for the rigors of college/university (postsecondary). Financial reality is that the cost of post-secondary can be an unwanted constant companion which attaches itself to the student for decades to come.

The egalitarian view that anyone can attend college is rooted in the misconception that college admissions is an inalienable right. It is not.

Going back to the original premise of this post, what can be done to improve secondary schools? Perhaps, the question is what can be done to ensure that the elementary or primary education is a good foundation as the student enters their first year in the secondary reality where the student ceases to be a child and becomes a teenager on the road to adulthood?

Listed below are a number of resources and organizations. Education of our children, teenagers and early twenties should be everyone concern—it is a community endeavor.

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight.” Thomas Jefferson

G. D. Williams © 2015

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Secondary Education – Current Trends, International Issues – HISTORY OF

In the mid-to late nineteenth century, the United States became the first country to open secondary education to the general public. In the early twenty-first century, secondary education follows a common elementary school experience, typically beginning at age twelve and continuing through age seventeen or eighteen.


ACE: American Council on Education

ACE is the nation’s most visible and influential higher education association. We represent the presidents of U.S. accredited, degree-granting institutions, which include two- and four-year colleges, private and public universities, and nonprofit and for-profit entities. Our strength lies in our loyal and diverse base of more than 1,700 member institutions, 75 percent of which have been with ACE for over 10 years. That loyalty stands as a testament to the value derived from membership. We convene representatives from all sectors to collectively tackle the toughest higher education challenges, with a focus on improving access and preparing every student to succeed.


NEA: National Education Association

The National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA’s 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.


ACTA: American Council of Trustees and Alumni

Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives a philosophically rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.



Students graduating from a 2-year vocational school or technical college will amass an average of $10,000 in student loan debt. These are students who are working towards certification programs that will help them to transition directly into the workforce.

The current average student loan debt for graduates from a four year college or university stands at $26,600. That figure can rise significantly for students attending a private, for-profit college or university. These are students who have received a Bachelor’s or baccalaureate degree.

Graduate students will be faced with an even greater amount of student debt. On average, students earning a graduate degree will leave school with an average of $43,500 in accumulated college loans. Again, this amount will be significantly greater for students graduating from a private for-profit university. Students studying medicine or law can easily amass a student loan debt that tops six figures. Taking into account loans for residencies and bar exams, they can easily find themselves with loans in excess of $100,000.


Beyond The Rhetoric

Every year in the United States, nearly 60% of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies. After enrolling, these students learn that they must take remedial courses in English or mathematics, which do not earn college credits. This gap between college eligibility and college readiness has attracted much attention in the last decade, yet it persists unabated. While access to college remains a major challenge, states have been much more successful in getting students into college than in providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to complete certificates or degrees. Increasingly, it appears that states or postsecondary institutions may be enrolling students under false pretenses. Even those students who have done everything they were told to do to prepare for college find, often after they arrive, that their new institution has deemed them unprepared. Their high school diploma, college-preparatory curriculum, and high school exit examination scores did not ensure college readiness.


Study Finds Many Colleges Don’t Require Core Subjects Like History, Government

A majority of U.S. college graduates don’t know the length of a congressional term, what the Emancipation Proclamation was, or which Revolutionary War general led the American troops at Yorktown.

The reason for such failures, according to a recent study: Few schools mandate courses in core subjects like U.S. government, history or economics. The sixth annual analysis of core curricula at 1,098 four-year colleges and universities by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni found that just 18% of schools require American history to graduate, 13% require a foreign language and 3% economics.


Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government



Reflections on a 122 Year-old Curriculum by Nils Ahbel