We are not #1, and we are getting worse

Be depressed. The reports are in, and American education sucks and is hurting our economy.

Stagnant scientific education imperils U.S. economic leadership, says a report by leading business and science figures.

Released Thursday at a congressional briefing attended by senators and congressmen of both parties, the report updates a 2005 science education report that led to moves to double federal research funding.

Nevertheless, the “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” review finds little improvement in U.S. elementary and secondary technical education since then.

“Our nation’s outlook has worsened,” concludes the report panel headed by former Lockheed Martin chief Norman Augustine. The report “paints a daunting outlook for America if it were to continue on the perilous path it has been following”.

It’s true. I’ve been seeing progressively more poorly educated students arriving at college over the course of my career — the students of 2010 are just as bright as the students of 1980, but they’ve been badly served (in general) by the public schools, and come in with sometimes frightening intellectual deficits. How can students graduate from high school and not know basic algebra? How can those same students then think they can go on to college?

Jingoistic patriotic Americans like to delude themselves into thinking we’re #1 at everything. We aren’t. In education, we’re like #48. It’s hard to think up a proud chant over that statistic.

There is one ray of hope for the US. The UK is contemplating euthanizing their research program. America could always hope that every other country will similarly scuttle their science and technology advantages and sink to our level.

I’d call it a great example of shooting themselves in the foot, except that they’re being so dumb about it that they’re shooting themselves in the head instead.