“We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time,” President Obama said last year. “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and outbuild the rest of the world.” Yet despite the economic crisis facing the country, the U.S. educational system remains frozen in place, unable to adapt to contemporary global realities.
In the latest international tests administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 32 percent of U.S. public- and private-school students in the class of 2011 were deemed proficient in mathematics. This placed the United States thirty-second among the sixty-five participating nations. U.S. students ranked between Portugal and Italy and far behind South Korea, Finland, Canada, and the Netherlands, to say nothing of the city of Shanghai, with its 75 percent proficiency rate.