America Is Slipping In Their Educational Standards

Andreas Schleicher, Head Analyst for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), addressed the U.S. Senate Committee on Education this month saying that the United States lags behind other countries in its educational rankings.

Working with the OECD, Schleicher revealed startling facts about the continuing degradation of American school systems.

According to the New York Times, Schleicher said that, internationally, greater amounts of students are graduating high school and college and scoring higher on achievement tests than students in the United States.

With only New Zealand, Spain, Turkey, and Mexico trailing behind the United States in educational outcomes, the United State's slot on the educational roster indicates a grim situation.

In other wealthy nations, "Fifteen-year-old students were, on average, more than one school year ahead of American 15-year-olds," according to the Times.

With this news at hand, lawmakers are planning to rewrite the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a piece of legislation that governs federal policy on public schools.

However, this Act has all the signs of a quick fix. It has become clear that a successful remedy must be broader and more fundamental, considering that educational reforms like "No Child Left Behind" have been failures.

According to the Times, Texas supermarket chain CEO Charles Butt also addressed the Senate education committee. He said that public schools are not entirely to blame for America's poor education performance. Butt said that dysfunctional families and a society that holds little value for education have played a large part in sub-standard scores.

"Schools are inheriting an over-entertained, distracted student," he said.

This problem, by extension, is also compounded by a system of media that has for years catered to a public thirst for information as entertainment, rather than a means of providing relevant information necessary for making informed decisions about social issues.

According to New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, education is neglected by American society and media. "Education doesn't get the attention it deserves," he said at a 2008 Harvard University education and media forum called "The Media: Driving Education Policy?"

According to the Harvard University Web site, Herbert and Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson both acknowledged that "the lack of coverage often reflects larger problems in America today: the unwillingness of people to sacrifice to help fund schools and many Americans' lack of concern regarding the disparities in the lives of others."

Southern Californians are all too familiar with the lack of funding and community support in education. Considering the recent public school budget cuts in California, it is no wonder that experts are finding a decrease in educational performance, compared with other countries.

In a country that has always been the self-proclaimed "land of opportunity," our educational system makes this phrase seem more like a colossal joke. In comparing ourselves to others, Americans expect an equitable outcome in educational standards.

In a culture that values sensationalism to reality, celebrity to intellect, and lacks compassion for its fellow citizens, we can only continue to expect less until fundamental social and cultural changes are implemented.