Lana Hiskey

Research and a summary of The Atlantic article paints a more positive picture of our education system than the message being spread by critics of our schools.

Students of Similar Income and Backgrounds
In recent international tests, our kids came in 14th in reading, 23rd in science, and 25th in math. But as The Atlantic associate editor Jordan Weissmann noted, once you compare students from similar income and class backgrounds, U.S. relative performance improves dramatically. In fact, it suggests that our educational problems may be as much about our sheer number of poor families as our supposedly poor schools. What's more, he points out, when it comes to raw numbers America generally has far more top performers than any other developed nation.

The "Global Talent Race"
Weissmann's source is a recent Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report on the country's supply of science and tech talent. In it, the United States claimed a third of high-performing students in both reading and science, far more than our next closest competitor, Japan. On math, we claimed 14 percent of the high-performers, compared to 15.2 percent for Japan and 16.2 percent of South Korea.

EPI report authors Hal Salzman and B. Lindsay Lowell argue the large numbers of top scorers from the United States should help put to rest the concern that it's losing the global talent race politicians love to fret about.

What's Succeeding "Here at Home"
In addition, Salzman and Lindsay make another point that's worth dwelling on - you can't replicate a country's style of education without replicating its culture, so instead of looking abroad for ideas about how to teach our kids, as some policy-types are inclined to do, perhaps we should look at what's succeeding here at home and spread it. Our schools are already producing plenty of bright thinkers of their own!

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