The great achievement of No Child Left Behind is that it has forced the states to focus at last on educational inequality, the nation’s most corrosive social problem. But it has been less successful at getting educators and politicians to see the education problem in a global context, and to understand that this country is rapidly losing ground to the nations we compete with for high-skilled jobs that require a strong basis in math and science.
American taxpayers have heard a fair amount about the fact that their children lag behind the children of Britain, France, Germany and Japan. But American students are also bested by nations like Poland, Ireland and the Czech Republic. Worst of all, they fall further and further behind their peers abroad the longer they stay in school.