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Wednesday, 5th March 2008

Education and Economic Growth

Education and Economic Growth
Source: Hoover Institution

Even before and certainly ever since the 1983 release of A Nation at Risk by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, national economic competitiveness has been offered as a primary reason for pushing school reform. The commission warned, “If only to keep and improve on the slim competitive edge we still retain in world markets, we must dedicate ourselves to the reform of our educational system for the benefit of all—old and young alike, affluent and poor, majority and minority.” Responding to these urgent words, the National Governors Association, in 1989, pledged that U.S. students would lead the world in math and science achievement by 2000.

According to the latest international math and science assessment conducted by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) (see Figure 1), the United States remains a long distance from that target. Rather than worrying about the consequences, some have begun to question what all the fuss was about. Education researcher Gerald Bracey, for example, has argued that no one has “provided any data on the relationship between the economy’s health and the performance of schools. Our long economic boom suggests there isn’t one—or that our schools are better than the critics claim.”

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