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Disappearing US Advantage

While the universities of the United States are top-notch, attracting students from around the world, the same is not true of pre-university schooling. It was perhaps best said by the 1983 report "A Nation at Risk" by the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983).

    "Our Nation is at risk. Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. . . . [T]he educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur--others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments. If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre education performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. . . . We have, in effect, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament."

In the last 25 years, a lot of money has been thrown at the problem, and standardized testing has been established. However, the improvement has been minimal. The US led in education through most of the 20th century, being the first to institute universal education, then benefiting from scientists escaping from Germany before World War II and an influx of students from Asian countries in the late 20th century, who would then stay and work in the US. But now, other countries have caught and passed us in education and many Asian students are going back to their own countries after graduating.

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