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America is no longer first in education, dumber than top 15

As a citizen of this great nation, it has always been a personal belief that I lived in the greatest country in the world. We value freedom, knowledge and we are tops on the world stage. Everybody knows who America is. Sadly though, I find that we as a nation are not just slipping behind other countries. We are doing an about-face and running from the spotlight in terms of educating our populace.

While it is true that we still build the best bombs and know how to throw our citizens in federal prison better than any other country on Earth, we educate our populace like a second tier nation.

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Don’t believe me? Look at the facts. According to studies and tests conducted by PISA — which measures math, readin, and science competency levels from 60 nations — America ranks 25th, 14th and 17th, respectively.

Those numbers will hopefully pull the veil off of everyone’s eyes so they can see that we are not nearly the best in the world. In fact, we are, by the looks of things, just incredibly average.

One of the worst things about this is that most Americans are ignorant of these facts and are simply unwilling to do much to change them. The land of the run-of-the-mill and ordinary just has a nice ring to it.

In large part, it seems that the reason we are so far down the list of the smartest countries, is really due in some way to our attitude.

We as a people are really focused on what is best for “me” and how can I benefit myself best. Also, our culture is extremely opposed to change, we like things the way they are even if they are not best. These simple observations of life make it easy for one to see why we might lag behind other countries, nowadays.

It seems America has become comfy and complacent as the lone superpower of the world and we have begun to lose our spirit that got us there in the first place.

No longer does our country take pride in its standing among the world. We no longer like to innovate and invest like we used to in the decades of the past. We no longer care for space exploration, or creating great public works like the national highway system.

Another thing about the average individual is his or her attitude toward learning. Nearly everyone I have met that is my age absolutely despises reading. Literally hating to read and to get educated on a subject is an absolutely pitiful behavior.

On the other side of that spectrum, on ABC.com they have stories from their reporters in China about how kids there began eight hour schooling days at the age of three, and they go to school 41 percent longer per year than we do here in the USA.

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Shanghai, China ranks first in the world in the math, science and reading tests that were aforementioned.

Another proud case is Finland, as they rank in the top 10 in all three categories. According to the reports from ABC.com the Fins require all teachers hold master’s degrees, which leads to smarter people educating their populace. About half of the teachers in America do, according to the reports.

In Finland, by the 7th grade, the children there will speak three different languages and begin studying chemistry and physics. An extremely small number of our populace can say the same.

This is in large part due to our spirit and values. I remember in my middle school some kids were trying to find the next joint to smoke, and could not even muster a guess as to what E=MC^2 stood for.

These countries are beating us because the people there consistently reinvest in the education of their fellow citizens, and they beat the drum of life enrichment through education until children become adults. Nations like China and Finland are invigorated and rich with people that desire to learn.

America is no longer the number one nation in terms of education; we have been ignorant of this for too long and have literally become dumber than the other top 15.

We must reinvest both personally and federally in our educational system, and change the way our kids feel about getting educated.

Like our president said, this is our nation’s Sputnik moment, and we can and must become first again.

Res Stecker is a junior international studies major. His columns appear Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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