What does Belgium have that the United States does not?

It has 16th place in a list of best-educated countries. The United States is in 17th place. Here is the list starting with Finland, the best-educated country in the world:

Finland
South Korea
Hong Kong
Japan
Singapore
UK
Netherlands
New Zealand
Switzerland
Canada
Ireland
Denmark
Australia
Poland
Germany
Belgium
USA
Hungary
Slovakia
Russia

So, my question for you is why can't the richest country in the world come in ahead of Belgium, Poland, and Canada?

One man thinks he knows...

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant suggested on Tuesday that a decline in American education was precipitated by the mass entry of mothers into the work place.

Bryant's remarks, which came during a Washington Post event, immediately stirred controversy amid a recent broad discussion over women's roles as family "breadwinners."

At the Washington Post event, Bryant was asked why he thought the country's educational state had gotten "so mediocre."

"I'm going to get in trouble. You want me to tell the truth? You know, I think both parents started working," Bryant said. "The mom is in the work place."

According to the Post, Bryant immediately tried to clarify his remarks, saying that "both parents are so pressured" in modern family situations. (source)

Now, it's hard to talk about this subject without women getting their backs up because they know that a lot of people are happy to blame one more bad thing on the improvement of the lot of women over recent decades. I heard one female commentator say that Finland has an even higher proportion of families with two employed parents and yet they have a better educated populace than the United States. I wonder, however, how many Finlandish families have latchkey children? Perhaps Finnish children do not leave school for an empty home but instead have some sort of free childcare for the younger children and perhaps activities for the older children.

Anyway, on what do YOU blame the poor performance of American schools.

Tags: education

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I blame people like Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.

Two of the factors which bothered me here in Canada may also be relevant to the United States.

The first is the idea that everyone needs a high school diploma. Obviously it isn't 100% true that everyone needs one, but the mindset exists. On the surface it seems good, but the reality is that the current education system is not one-size-fits-all. Instead of encouraging alternative opportunities for those who do not fit with the current system, all that happened was the system lowered its standards and promoted people through the grades without actually educating them.

The second was allowing parents to act as if they were consumers and education was a private business offering them a paid service. Obviously there is a place for parental involvement with schools, but it is not a 'customer is always right' scenario where parents get to make demands on course content, test difficulty, marking policy or other aspects of education which should be left to the discretion of education professionals.

An issue which seems more problematic in the United States which is much less pronounced in Canada is standardized testing. I have heard it said that teaching to the test has become really common practice over the years, and also that test results tie into funding for public schools. It seems like this detracts from the goal of educating students in favour of a specious performance metric. Not having experienced it first hand though, I don't really know.

As for latchkey kids? I don't know. I've never considered that angle. Top performers in my school were heterogenous family structures as were the dropouts. I can't say if there was any overall trend.

My first item may actually not make sense in the context of that education ranking, depending on how it was measured. I was only thinking of quality of education, and not measures such as average highest level of education received.

@Max Headroom;

"What does Belgium have that the United States does not?"

Belgiums?

Belgians?*

I don't really think blame is the right word, cause might be a better one.

I also don't see how America can be compared to the other countries on the list.  Since America doesn't have one school system, it has 14,000 school systems.

If we were to compare each of those 14,000 to the systems in those countries on the list, we would find that some are extraordinary and some are piles of shit.

Comparing each of the "14,000" school systems rather defeats the purpose of statistical measurements.  Each country probably has a diverse school system.  The USA is not being singled out in any special way, other than by the OP.

@Dear Strega;

Which is why such statistical measurements are useless, comparing apples to oranges has long been know to be foolish.

From country to country there are different cultures, economy's, etc., comparisons don't help much.  As the Pearson report pointed out; "According to the report, they concluded that spending is important, but not as much as having a culture that is supportive of learning."

The American system if rife with problems not the least of which are disproportionate funding, the teachers union and local control. We do not have a supportive culture for learning.

If the Pearson report is correct and culture is key, I have little hope of improving progress.

Yes they do seem a bit pointless in that they don't take into consideration many other elements of culture unique to each area, although in some ways, severe dissatisfaction with a system can motivate overhaul.  Competitive comparatives, however abstract, can help ferment that motivation.  Maybe we will see more internet based educational tools in the future.

You will have to forgive me for not holding my breath and waiting on pins and needles. :)

American (tho it pains me to say it) is a dying Empire and headed for one of those very hard landings which will most likely break her back.

Apocalyptic views are most always wrong. The British empire has been crashing since 1947. It worst was the Iron Lady or the American Werewolf. I'm not sure.

@ Invisible Man;

Do you have a source for your list?

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