We’ve all heard the continuing refrain from various politicians and “experts” that US schools are failing, that American students aren’t learning anything, that our schools are terrible compared to the rest of the world, and therefore we need to dismantle our public schools by one method or another.
IT IS ALL FALSE!
Here is some evidence from the latest international TIMMS scores in the 4th and 8th grades. The data follows.
The red scores are from nations whose students do significantly better than American students.
The part in white shows nations whose students do about the same as American students.
The part in pink shows nations whose students score significantly worse than American students.
Notice that American students IMPROVED from 4th grade to the 8th grade, in comparison to the other countries – exactly the opposite of conventional wisdom.
And think about whether you would want your child, or any child you know, to have to undergo the pressure-cooker, totally conformist, force-fed type of education that they have in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, or Singapore. At least in America, students learn how to question authority and think for themselves. There is precious little of that in other school systems, based on my own personal experience.
Hmm – maybe that’s why we are being bombarded with the idea that Japanese, Chinese, and Korean schools are so wonderful: students there are essentially NEVER expected to question anything, and are trained to exhibit no independent thinking at all. Maybe that’s why powerful corporations and right-wing forces here in the US want to re-make US schools, even though they are, overall, doing a pretty good job?