A panel of experts from the nation’s leading science advisory group called for changes urgently needed to increase the competitiveness of the United States in science.
The most interesting part of this is that we’ve known that Americans have mediocre scores in math and science for decades. Why the sudden urgency to change anything?
The question boils down to the origin of our competitive edge. So long as the U.S. had the top universities in the world, and a fairly open immigration policy, we didn’t really need good primary education. Its been no secret that the U.S. has been draining the best brains from the rest of the world for a long time now, and after they’ve completed higher education here (and paid us fatly for it), they generally are able to do phenomenal things that largely create and sustain America’s edge. The public policy of assuring that most of America’s primary public schools suck achieves three (economic) objectives at once: save $ on primary education, make $$$$ from foreigners getting secondary education, make $$$$$$ from smart naturalized foreigners continuing to live in the U.S. I would also argue for a fourth (economic) objective: creating a mass of mindless consumers that make and keep the elite rich. (Wouldn’t a truly educated person recognize that more ‘stuff’ doesn’t make us more happy? Wouldn’t they be more cautious about what they buy and what they do if they knew the damage that their consumption causes? Wouldn’t a more educated population not believe lies that the politicians tell to make themselves richer through war-profiteering and instead insist that they spend a fraction of that money on preventing natural disasters that they saw coming?)
So really, what’s changed?
Fortress America, that’s what. Though many experts believe that it doesn’t really make us safer, what it does do quite well is make it harder for all those smart foreigners to get into this country. And when you take that piece out of America, the myopic policy of spending more than 8 times the amount on the military as you do on educating the country causes the whole cookie to crumble.
The recommendations of the team included provisons designed to enable foreigners to study here, and immigrate if they’re productive just after graduating. Ironically, what should be the most shocking and tragic part of their report is also what make the most sense in the big picture: they suggest absolutely nothing to actually help un-dumb America’s primary public schools. Have they too recognized that our present system only calls for a few smart people and a whole lotta dumb ones, or are they just worried about offending the Dummy-In-Chief?