A Nation at Risk was published in 1983 with its, now famous, warning that a ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ threatened to engulf the nation’s schools. This small book, issued by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, a prestigious ad hoc panel chaired by University of California’s President David Gardner, sounded an education call to arms and unleashed a firestorm of reform activity. Written in language reminiscent of calls for national defense build-ups in times of foreign military threat, the report succeeded in capturing and holding the nation’s attention.