At age ten, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age fifteen, when students from forty countries are tested, the Americans place twenty-fifth. The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition. They do worse than kids from countries that spend much less money on education.
This should come as no surprise once you remember that public education in the USA is a government monopoly. Don’t like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it’s good or bad. That’s why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse. —John Sossel —Stupid in America: Why your kids are probably dumber than Belgians (Reason)
Stupidity and low marks earned in a standardized test are not identical terms. The headline and the report are designed to cause immediate shock and vague outrage.
What is the international average? Just how far off from the international average is a 25th-place finish?
Every year I encounter first-semester freshmen who have been trained to expect that being bright is enough to earn them As. And since the national teachers’ union has gone on record as holding the position that home-schooled children should not be permitted to use the school facilities their families tax dollars have paid for, I’m not emotionally motivated to defend the union.
While the tabloid-style presentation annoys me (there’s even a reference to a teacher sending sexual notes to “Cutie 101”), the idea behind the report is worth considering.
Once again, however, The Onion does it better.