Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Failure of the United States Education System

The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which is part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently finished a study of 15 million students worldwide.  For those who monitor education from an international perspective, the results were hardly surprising. 

The survey, which tested 15-year-old students in participating countries, revealed the U.S. ranked average in reading and science, and below average in math. China, participating for the first time ever, blew the competition out of the water, coming in first in all three categories.  

US Education Secretary Duncan had to be honest when he admitted, “The United States came in 23rd or 24th in most subjects. We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.”  

On a lighter side, American comedians everywhere were embarrassed to see that Poland outranked the United States by two places.  They had to scramble to change their, "So a Pollack is lost in the desert . . . ," with, "So an American is lost in the desert . . . ."
The rankings are as follows (to the USA):

  1. Shanghai-China
  2. Korea
  3. Finland
  4. Hong Kong-China
  5. Singapore
  6. Canada
  7. New Zealand
  8. Japan
  9. Australia
  10. Netherlands
  11. Belgium
  12. Norway
  13. Estonia
  14. Switzerland
  15. Poland
  16. Iceland
  17. United States
 Clearly, the United States needs to overhaul its education system and put emphasis into science and math instruction.  However, those who are skilled at science and math no longer want low-paying teaching jobs.  Our soldiers earn better than teachers, and our military expenditures dwarf education spending.  However, with lower-cost, high quality educators available overseas and online, we suspect there will be a growing trend towards internationalizing instruction and using more computer-facilitated instruction to try to make our students competitive once again.

It will be a struggle to improve our nation and our students' future.  We hope that our public servants will do whatever it takes to ensure that we fix the largest problem with our nation--this one.

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