Don't panic. To err a nation, please pay close attention and follow the steps described below:
1. Design a No Child Left Behind program to standardize students’ academic achievement to minimal skills. Make unrealistic “measurable goals” and punish schools failing to do this task properly by gradually redistributing marginalized, low-performing populations (especially black and Latino) so that they learn the lesson. In the process, close schools to punish the poor so that they are twice as likely to go to the overcrowded ones.
2. If that is not enough to homogenize the system, cut funding for programs for the gifted so that they drop out the same rates as the normal kids.
3. Privatize education. Give states incentives to give teachers bonuses and open charter schools with a Race to the Top program so that the ones behind are where they should be: behind. That way, you can also be segregated without segregation since it so happens that the schools behind are also those filled with the poor and minorities.
4. Now that you have homogenized those who go through the K-12 system to their lowest potential, shovel 70% of them to college and make sure they do not learn anything in their first two years. Noone will pay attention since college is all about 41 hours weekly of leisure activities and 8 hours of studying – just like a middle school student.
5. Inflate grading to meet the students where they are at, so that the difference between a 3.60 GPA and a 2.79 or lower GPA equates the difference of one hour studying.
7. When someone realizes that only 46% of those enrolled in college actually graduate, lower than the former Soviet bloc country of Slovakia (Oh horror!), make a goal of producing 8 million college graduates by 2020. No one cares if you will meet your goal or not.
8. Now that you are on the way to underproduce 1 million college graduates in STEM fields, make the cost of education increase 50% in a decade. If students are indebted and cannot graduate, it does not matter because one third of those graduated would hold jobs that do not require one any way.
9. Since few realize how they have erred all along, the even better result is a generation of delusional optimists.