This September, President Obama addressed the United Nation’s General Assembly and claimed that America was exceptional in its ability to stand up for the interests of all.
“American exceptionalism” is not a new idea; its roots go all the way to the Revolutionary War when America became the first “new nation.” The United States has broken away from the class inequality of the old world and is a superior “country on a hill,” according to many.
Lately, however, a number of surveys, statistics, and articles have shown that this might not be the case. The most recent is a global Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) ranking of students in math, science, and reading, released this Tuesday. The OECD tested over 510,000 students in 65 countries and found that the U.S. scored below average in all three subjects. U.S. scores have fallen since 2009 — from 25th to 31st in math and from 11th to 21st in reading.
The OECD also found that socioeconomic background significantly impacted results.
“What seems to be happening in our education system, which is also what’s happening in our economy at large, is that the top is doing just fine and everybody else is getting hosed,” says The Daily Ticker’s Henry Blodget.
Asia dominated the exams-- Chinese teens ranked number one across the board in math, reading and science. Also ranking far above the U.S. students were teens from Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong.
“This is pathetic. America needs to wake up and look in the mirror and say ‘this is where we are’ and it’s more than an education and math story. We’re competing on a global stage,” says Blodget.
The news isn’t all-dreary, according to Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief Aaron Task: “A lot of other countries are good at teaching their students how to take standardized tests. We do a better job, generally speaking, of teaching creative thinking and problem solving.”
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