Our long national educational decline
is over never existed in the first place! As Kevin Drum points out (with charts!), student scores on reading and math have been going up (or, for 17 year olds, remaining steady) for the last 40 years:
This doesn’t mean everything is peachy; it doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets of unconscionably poor achievement; and it doesn’t mean we’re spending our educational dollars wisely. We can still argue about all that stuff, just as we can argue about charter schools, direct instruction, concentrated poverty, and much more. But the backdrop for those arguments is simple: test scores have been going up for the past four decades, and that rise has continued over the past decade. Not always steadily, but nonetheless going in the right direction.
This came during a period when the American school system 1) worked to integrate itself, and 2) absorbed the children in the second largest wave of immigration in American history. That scores continued upward or even remained stable is remarkable.