The American Way: Education and the Key to International Competitiveness

Pierce Preshure

The Common Core. Rigorous teacher evaluations. Empowered principals. Career ladders. Each may be the key to curing what ails America’s education system and restoring America’s economic supremacy. Or not. Unfortunately, the U.S. of A. can’t wait around to see if a few uncertain reforms will keep us internationally competitive. Luckily, Marc Tucker explains in his latest book, we don’t need to. Let’s be honest: No one knows how to get a bunch of Jersey Shore-addicted slackers from Secaucus to outscore the superstars of Shanghai. Thing is, while we may not know how to fix a school system, we sure know how to break one—and that may just be the key to staying one step ahead. While the Finns (no relation to Chester) have turned their academic prowess into a genuine economic driver (books about their education system just passed reindeer meat as Helsinki’s biggest export), Tucker explains that the U.S. can regain its economic dominance by sending its dysfunction abroad. As such, he recommends a few key “reforms”: Airlift Wii consoles preinstalled with Skyrim and Grand Theft Auto to Singapore, promote project-based learning in Hong Kong and “twenty-first century skills” (whatever that means) in Shanghai, advocate for cushy teacher contracts in Japan, and screen Hot Tub Time Machine in Finland. As Tucker’s treatise concludes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, and you can’t join ‘em, make ‘em just as bad as you.”

Marc Tucker, The American Way: Education and the Key to International Competitiveness, (Washington, D.C.: McWhimsey and Co., 2012).

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