In hindsight (for me), it's becoming more clear the Reagan administration's agenda in publishing "A Nation At Risk" re. education. By singling out the teacher as the most responsible factor for determining the success or failure of students, it's obvious that this assertion gave the right wing the rationale for attacking the teaching profession and professional teachers' association/unions for "our failing schools." Not long after its publication, it was required reading for an education class I took while studying for a degree. While reading the document, I remember saying to myself, "But what about the socio-economic - familial, environmental - conditions that children bring with them to the classroom"? Apparently, other factors weren't supposed to matter anymore.
It didn't occur to me at the time that something deeper was at work here: a hidden agenda absolving the Dept. of Education (existing in the form of HEW, the Dept. of "Health, Education, and Welfare"), i.e., the government, of responsibility for addressing the conditions under which many school children live and bring with them into the classroom. Until that time, the classroom environment had been viewed through a more wholistic lens; but the Reagan administration brought a compartmentalized view and approach to the factors at work in public school classrooms. "A Nation At Risk" mostly lay dormant until "Educational Reform" could be implemented, the results of which we are seeing now.