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By Fareed Zakaria
The single biggest force behind falling American rankings on education and skills is not that the United States is doing things much worse, but that other countries have caught up and are doing better. The American system of secondary education and adult training is clearly inadequate in the new global environment.
And things show no signs of improving.
The bipartisan backlash against the common core – a set of national standards agreed to by governors – is a tragic example.Parents raised on a culture of low standards and high self-esteem are outraged that the tests show that many, many American schools are not teaching their children enough.(The tests must be at fault because their kids are brilliant!)
Some left wing groups and teachers’ groups are upset with the emphasis on testing (though Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers, has actually endorsed the Common Core.)
And Republicans now oppose it, despite having championed it only a few years ago, largely because the Obama administration also happens back this project.
Here's another quote from French economist Thomas Piketty's big book: “[T]he principal force for convergence [of wealth]-the diffusion of knowledge-is only partly natural and spontaneous. It also depends in large part on educational policies.”
In other words, if America really wants to reduce inequality, it needs to reform the system, spend money where needed – such as early education – and get to work at it now.
Watch the video for the full Take or read the WaPo column