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WATCH: 35 years after ‘A Nation at Risk,’ the inside story of the 36 pages that changed American education

Jim Fields and Emmeline Zhao | April 12, 2018

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The Reagan Institute’s Summit on Education, which opened Thursday in Washington, D.C., commemorates the 35th anniversary of the release of “A Nation at Risk.” The 74 is publishing a special series of articles, essays, and retrospectives about the release and the aftermath of the famous education report. See the full series here

This 10-minute video tells the inside story of the 36 pages that changed American education. 

“They certainly had no idea that the risk was the school.

No, they (the Reagan administration) and we (the American people) didn’t. That revelation landed like a nuclear bomb, which, as former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt points out, is what most Americans thought they had to fear 35 years ago when “A Nation at Risk” was released.

In this gripping new 74 documentary directed by Jim Fields, Hunt and other key players recall how they went about determining that “the condition of American education K-12 had deteriorated badly in the previous 25 years,” and the essential promise they extracted from President Ronald Reagan beforehand that the report would be published regardless of what it revealed about America’s schools.

—Directed by Jim Fields; Produced by Jim Fields & Emmeline Zhao. Published in partnership with

• Read more: New ‘Nation at Risk’ would start with ‘Dear American people: Wake up,’ Janet Napolitano says in Reagan Institute panel with Condoleezza Rice

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