Phi Beta Cons

Are We “Losing our Edge”?

In Day Five of NRO’s education week, we find this piece by Marc Lampkin, which argues that the US faces a bleak economic future unless American students start doing better in their studies, especially math and science.
I am certainly in favor of schools doing better at teaching students about math and science. Schools should focus much more on fundamental knowledge and forget about time wasting touchy-feely stuff. I don’t, however, believe that we should couch that argument in terms of national economic competitiveness. I don’t think that America’s economic edge has ever had much to do with superior formal education for the masses of the population.
Few people have jobs that call for even the least bit of familiarity with any advanced math or science concepts, but we have educational opportunities in abundance for anyone who is interested in those fields.
Several months ago, I criticized this “international competitiveness” argument in an article in The Freeman.
The stronger reason for desiring more effective math and science instruction in K-12 education is that people with that education are less likely to fall for illogical and demagogic political rhetoric. And if that instruction crowds out ideological blather, so much the better.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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