A National Disgrace

By December 8, 2004Studies and Reports

Don’t know how many of you caught the article in yesterday’s Washington Post about the new results from the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests. This is an annual test of students in all OECD countries, and the results are never great for the US. This year was no exception: we ranked a dismal 24th out of 29 countries in math literacy alone. NAM President John Engler, a zealot on education reform, said, “When America’s 15 year-olds demonstrate less math literacy than those in Hungary and the Slovak Republic, US policymakers, educators and employers ought to be shocked into action.” As Bill Brock used to say, “We rank last in everything but self-esteem.”

You can talk about manufacturing all day, and the challenges we face, but all roads lead to education and to the schools. We must make every effort to ensure that our schools are delivering a product we can use. Many years ago, David Kerns, then CEO of Xerox, complained that he was, “sick and tired of doing the recall work for the Nation’s schools.” It’s time to start applying the principles of manufacturing — metrics, zero defects, accountability — to the American educational system. How many more wake up calls do we need?

Whaddaya say, NEA, are you with us….?