in these United States love to bask in the glory of our
“exceptionalism”. We are great, we are wonderful, we
dominate the world. Scholars who study “us” say that
our exceptionalism is rooted in the fact that we have offered
leadership in international affairs. We have committed more
resources than other countries to the United Nations, to NATO, and
to other organizations committed to international peace. But we do
this with a sense of paternal largess, as if we are the greatest,
the most wonderful, the benefactor.
we have allowed our electoral system to be thrown into chaos
because Vladimir Putin has a grudge against former Secretary of
State, Hillary Clinton, and he used his minions to actualize his
grudge. He has had a man crush with Donald Trump, who asked that
Russia hack Hillary’s emails, and obeying Trump’s
bidding, the Russians did. This whole electoral drama is a
nightmare. Hillary Clinton got nearly 3 million more votes than
Trump, but he has a (maybe) electoral college victory. Is this
American exceptionalism? A hacked democracy vulnerable to the
intrusion of foreign powers?
the Russians are hacking now, imagine what they will do in the
future. A recent study from the National Center for Educational
Statistics (NCES) shows that 15 year-olds in the United States lag
behind others in an international context. We talk as if we are
number one or number two in achievement, but the fact is that we
are number 14 or 15 by many measures. We aren’t exceptional
– we’re just average, ranking below a dozen countries,
hitting the median mark.
science literacy is measured, 24 countries rank higher than the
United States. The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development) average score on science literacy is 493, and the
US was close to the average, at 496. Singapore, Japan, Finland,
Canada, Vietnam, Australia, the UK, German, Switzerland, Ireland
and Portugal were among those with higher scores. Really? These
folks will be among those hacking us in a decade if we don’t
make better investments in education!
kind of average with reading literacy, as well. The OECD average
is 493, and the US average is 497. Singapore, Canada, Finland,
Ireland, Japan, Norway, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands
outscore us. We’re in the band with France, the UK, and
Spain. What are Singapore, Canada and Ireland doing that we
aren’t? In a global economy, how do we compete with them?
math comparisons with other countries are especially alarming. The
OECD average for math literacy is 490, but the US score is 470. At
least 30 countries, including Singapore, Japan, Switzerland,
Estonia, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Iceland,
Norway, Austria, Italy, Scotland, and the Russian Federation have
higher scores than the US. Why?
federal Department of Education should deal with the matter of
standards. Common Core, while not popular among some educational
leaders, is a way of ensuring that those who graduate from our
nation’s high schools have a common foundation of knowledge.
Implementing Common Core may be challenging, especially when some
high schools, especially inner city high schools, lack the
resources to offer the broadest curriculum. While many schools off
advanced course, including advanced placement (AP) and
international baccalaureate (IB), some
do not. Every student needs to have an opportunity to access
importantly, those who do educational policy must look at the ways
our students are lagging in the international environment. Are we
content to be 14th, 22nd, 34th in international measures, while,
at the same time, talking exceptionalism. We aren’t
especially exceptional when it comes to learning, we are merely
average, and often below average when we review international
are those who will quibble with the ways that the Program for
International Student Assessment (PISA) measures learning
outcomes. I think, though, that when students from 73 educational
systems tackle the same tests, objections can be pushed aside.
Even with a flawed measure, even with adjustments, we must
conclude that the United States is not exceptional, just average.
we want to be exceptional, we need to do more than sell wolf
tickets and crow over our competitors. Here’s the bottom
line – the Russians were smart enough to hack us and mess
with our elections. Are we as smart as they are, or are we
average? Mr. Trump says he will create jobs. He needs to make
resources available to the Department of Education. If he wants to
“Make American Great Again”, he needs to make American
smart again by investing in education.