On December 3, 2013, when the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores, the ranking of the United States as number 27 on the global scoreboard elicited little surprise among teachers, educational professionals, academics, and educational policymakers. The usual platitudes were trotted out—no mention that the United States’ standing was getting any worse, just which other countries were passing us by. We were stuck at a perennial average.
The results are in a sense a metaphor of the slow decline of the United State since the 1970s from a position of preeminence in the world in almost every field of societal endeavor. Once the country that others envied for its unrivaled vibrancy, for its pulsating energy cascading into seemingly limitless opportunities across its vast domain, its pioneering spirit opening new frontiers to explore, a land of innovation and entrepreneurship where any immigrant could raise himself by his bootstraps to unimaginable heights by hard work and unbridled ambition, it has slowly fallen off its pedestal and is settling for being average in many fields in which it once excelled.
The contributors to this issue— Andreas Schleicher, Catherine Boehme, Linda Darling-Hammond, Chris Edley, Michael Rebell, Fernando Reimers and Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Kathleen J. Skinner and Paul Toner, Ronald Thorpe, Mark Warren, Randi Weingarten, and Jason Zimba—are among the most distinguished in their respective fields. They were asked to take the 2012 PISA scores as a starting point and address the obstacles to education reform that prevent this country from leapfrogging rather than scrambling its way into the top tier of education performers, to address what is perhaps the most significant variable: that, leaving aside the fact that every municipality in the United States has its own educational system, there is not one education paradigm but several. There is a proliferation of education entrapments. Many argue persuasively, that the root of inequity in educational outcomes is growing poverty and resegregation. No Child Left Behind has become More Children Left Behind.
New England Journal of Public Policy:
1, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol26/iss1/2