Much has been made of the scores, the falling behind the rest of the world, but there are reforms a foot. The mere fact that the USA spends more per student than anyone else in the world, should give pause to consider more reform.
Also simply put, the dignity and accomplishments of a generation begins with how well they educated and enabled the youth.
In this article the overall picture of education has a stark contrast to that system that I grew up in: Link
Throughout American history, almost every generation has had substantially more education than that of its parents.
That is no longer true.
When baby boomers born in 1955 reached age 30, they had about two years more schooling than their parents, according to Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz, who have calculated the average years of schooling for native-born Americans back to 1876.
In contrast, when Americans born in 1980 turned 30 in 2010, they averaged about eight months more schooling than their parents.
The video at right delves into this issue with some interesting options explored.
Human capital is the set of skills and knowledge people living in a country have acquired. This is roughly measured by the average years of schooling per capita and a country’s average healthy life expectancy. So yes, great teachers certainly do contribute to the development of human capital.
But it’s worth noting that the U.S. spends the most per pupil in the world, rising in constant dollars from $4,500 per student in 1970 to $10,500 in 2008. In the meantime that 17-year-old students in 1973 scored 285 points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. In 2008, they scored one point higher—286 points. The math scores were 304 and 306 respectively. Our public school teachers may be great and better paid, but the data don’t show they’ve gotten better results.
Nevertheless, with regard to human capital, the United States is doing pretty well compared to other developed countries. The U.S. has the highest percentage of high school graduates of any country and only Canada, Japan, and Israel edge out the U.S. on percent of population with college degrees.
Districts nationwide are trying radical approaches to shake up financially and academically troubled schools, including dismissing the entire staff or turning several schools over to outside groups to run.
A few districts in Georgia have converted into charter districts in an effort to get out from under state class-size and teacher-salary schedules. In those cases, the district administration generally remains in place and oversees schools, but each school creates a council of teachers and parents that make hiring and budget decisions. New Orleans has taken one of the most extreme approaches by converting most of its schools to charters and allowing students to use state-funded vouchers to attend private schools.
Charter schools—public schools run by outside entities using taxpayer funds—are free from many administrative constraints, including union contracts, and typically spend less than traditional schools per student.
Proponents say the move could offer a lifeline to other school districts in crisis. In 2011, 48 of Michigan's 793 districts ran deficits that totaled $429 million, compared with 18 districts with $59 million in combined deficits in 2004-2005, according to the most recent state data.