August 18th, 2013
09:30 AM ET

Restoring the American Dream

By Fareed Zakaria

A recent OECD report points out that the U.S. is one of only three rich countries that spends less on disadvantaged students than others, largely because education funding for elementary and secondary schools in America is tied to local property taxes. So by definition, poor neighborhoods end up with badly funded schools. In general, America spends lots of money on education but most of it is on college education and most is directed towards those already advantaged in various ways.

What's clear from all this research is that countries that invest more heavily in all their children's health care, nutrition, and education, well-being more generally end up with a much stronger ladder of opportunity and access than America. Now, that is something we can change and with relatively little money. So if we want to restore the American dream, we now have the beginnings of a path forward.

For more, read the Washington Post column

Post by:
Topics: Economy • United States

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Brian Jensen

    Please stop with the bullet point ding sound effects. It drives my dog crazy.

    August 18, 2013 at 10:24 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Now I see that you're posting under the name of Brian Jensen, Phunnie boy, with your Tea Party mentality. Thanks for not using my name for a change.

      August 18, 2013 at 11:11 am | Reply
  2. George patton

    One good way to restore our educational system is to get out of all these useless and unnecessary wars that we're currently in and use that money to fund our local schools. I guess that most people are just to ignorant to think of this. Ignorance is the one single threat facing this country and the sooner the people realize it, the better!!!

    August 18, 2013 at 11:09 am | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    True, Fareed, we in Europe invest much in education and welfare of children. Good schools and universities enable many young graduates to find job. Yet in Northern Europe, young educated very often head to countries where they can earn more and pay lower taxes. For these people the US is still on their list of destinations. In Southern Europe the young educated head north to Germany to find jobs.
    It's an irony that we see a brain drain, while the US is struggling to provide for good education to ordinary Americans.

    August 18, 2013 at 11:46 am | Reply
  4. Sami Samra

    Hello Fareed,
    First I would like for you to know, that I really admire your ingenuity, value your opinion and love your show. I believe that your message is not only good for the American people but for the whole world; it is what I call the true honest journalism that has disappeared in the last thirty years. Having said all this, I am puzzled by the fact that your show keeps bringing Bret Stevens as a regular guest. What I love about you are your independent views, analysis, truth and honest opinion; you are a fair journalist and I truly enjoy that because it is rare these days, not only the USA but the world. Bret Stevens, is a radical Zionist individual that always put Israel's interest above and beyond everything. In reality his views and position typically ends up working against Israel's, Radicalism, unfairness and endorsing injustice will never prevail. Israel had stolen the land from the Palestines, displaced millions of them all over the world and continues to occupy them and kill them every day while the whole world standing on the line watching. We need peace in the middle east, we need to solve this problem and need to stop the bloodshed. Your voice and voices like yours need to be heard while radicalism of people like Mr. Stevens must not be promoted. We all have the right to coexist, live in peace and create an environment for all of us to excel in life. Regards, Sami

    August 18, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  5. Lois W. Halbert

    Re: American Dream Failing. Reason: LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN REPLACED BY LOBBYISTS!

    August 18, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Thank you, Lois. You nailed it good!

      August 19, 2013 at 12:14 am | Reply
  6. Tom Cox

    Fareed, I think the scholars referenced in your "My Take" segment should try to figure out and focus on why it is that Salt Lake City seems to have such a high upward mobility rating. Therein lies the answer to the problem.

    August 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  7. sundownr

    If you really want to fix America then cut the wealth gap in half and nearly everybody will have what they want. If you prefer revolution, where everybody loses, then keep increasing the wealth gap. This does not take genius to understand. The wealth gap says it all.

    August 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      Well said, sundownr. As long as the gap between the rich and the poor continue to grow, the so-called "American Dream" will most slowly whither away. Come to think of it, I never heard of an English Dream, a French Dream, a Canadian Dream or a Mexican Dream. I wonder why that is!

      August 19, 2013 at 12:13 am | Reply
  8. Joseph McCarthy

    This appears to wishful thinking on Fareed Zakaria's part. The so-called "American Dream" is slowly becoming a thing of the past while the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In the meantime, the middle class continues to fall into poverty. As long as the right-wingers keep on getting elected over and over again, this will only continue!

    August 18, 2013 at 11:52 pm | Reply
  9. Johnson

    No new 'Detroit bankruptcy nightmare', please. It does not matter what we spend on education, if we have false leadership in Washington DC. Washington DC, that imports from all over the world, and forgets about American interests, is no good for America. American dream can not be achieved with imports from non-alliance countries, such as China or S. Korea, but with strong USA exports.

    August 19, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
  10. GEORGE ARGIRIOU

    the ieroglyfics at the agricultural fields of england yesterday are a sign(espesialy 1 of them).the cube is spinning or qvo vandis.look into it and u will unterstand.

    August 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Reply
  11. Benjamin

    Thanks for bringing this critical issue to the forefront. Idea: stop using our tax dollars to buy cooperation from other countries like Egypt and others. Take those funds and give inner-city teachers a raise and improve school conditions. If everyone is well-educated, productive and given the opportunity to grow then its a win win for America.

    August 19, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  12. GEORGE ARGIRIOU

    i am talking about the agroglyfics in england yesterday or today i think.

    August 19, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Reply
  13. Deborah S

    I am a Canadian and very much enjoyed hearing that we are doing well on social mobility, however, our current government admires many of the current social policies of the US so that may be changing. I am very proud of the fact that all of our Prime Ministers have had their children in the Ontario public, not private school system. The current lot attend Rockcliffe Public School in Rockcliffe Park. The school's catchment area includes the very working class neighbourhood of Vanier. Nope they don't get special funding but do have RCMP officers stationed there to provide security to the PM's children. The funding of the school is the same as any other as public school as they are funded at the provincial (ie state) level and not by the property taxpayers locally. There are very good, very expensive private schools in the area – Elmwood and Ashbury – which are attended by the children of the ambassadors etc. If folks persist on electing political leaders whose children attend private school, why would you expect that anything will change for the better in the public school system? Municipal planners might take a look at more mixed housing in neighbourhoods as well. If you have gated community of houses not less than 3,000 square feet or nongated ones with only apartment buildings, how can you expect to have diversity of incomes attending your schools? If your children are not brought up with other children of various income levels and ethnicity / religions, how can you expect compassion for others in their generation. I remember many conversations with my children about classmates who couldn't afford various items. This made our parents' committees work hard to fund raise for activities and made us more generous. You take ownership or your community. And yes we have powerful teachers' unions and, on the average, they are actually better paid better than American teachers I am told. They are not the problem – they are part of the solution. So if you want live in a Third World country – keep building gated communities, with applications required to get in, that have their own security services, recreational services and private schools – combine that with reduced public funding for the rest of the citizenry that can't afford these things on their own and add no public health care to the mix – you are well on your way to one and to potentially to building a revolutionary climate. It is a very nasty place to live.

    August 19, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Reply
  14. JAL

    The term "American Dream" should be changed to include everyone on earth. Perhaps, the "United Dream."

    August 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Reply
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    August 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  16. Jim Zickos

    Your comparison of the US situation to that of Canada is misleading. Just because both have a large number of first generation citizens doesn't mean they have similar demographics. In Canada, 90% of the population is of either European or Asian descent; in the US, it's 68%. Hispanics in the US account for 16% of the population, in Canada, 1%. African Americans are 12% of the US population, 3% in Canada. You probably know the statistics concerning murder rates, single-family homes, incarceration, etc. by race. There are many other factors such as Canada only needing to spend 1% of GDP on defense since they live next door to the world's superpower which spends 5% on defense after taking out money spent on Iraq and Afghanistan. I could go on, however, the point is that the situation in the US (or most in country for that matter) is more complicated than to make a direct comparison to any other country. Perhaps our biggest problem is being too politically correct to address some of our more serious issues.

    August 19, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Reply
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