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:

South Korea
Hong Kong
New Zealand

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.

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Only unique in scale, not substance. I just think we're more encouraging than most others. Perhaps unique was a misleading word.

So, the larger the population the worse the educational system?


That's not what I said

I was referring to the correlation between sample size and the standard deviation. In this particular case it seems that having a higher sample size is actually going against the US since there are too many variables affecting the outcome of the possibilities.

The top ranked states for  public education by math and  science are mostly in the North East.

1. Mass, 2. Minn, 3. NJ, 4. N.H. 5. NY


These schools are way above the national average. Population  and economy wise,  NY is very close to some of these top European states in your list. I would like to see these 5 states ranked individually against those top countries. Something tells me they will not disappoint you.

A quarter? Massachusetts has a larger population than some of these countries. 

I should have said 1/20th. But the term '1/4''  is so commonly used when referring to a lesser amount that it just rolled off my tongue lol

How does population affect education? larger population means more students, sure.... it also means more funding.

A large population probably results in a larger budget. But per student? Not necessarily. 

Exactly my point. Population is irrelevant because more people means more funding for more students.

But probably less per student.

I think on the whole that larger countries tend to have a larger proportion of poor people and, in the U.S. in particular, education funding is local, whereas I think in many other countries it is funded nationally. Poor people can't afford to fund their schools well and sometimes they place less emphasis on education than on flat out survival issues. This would drag that funding statistics down.

I think you are wrong in this; most towns, counties, states and countries have their good and bad schools, it is probably the same all over the world.

Where I live there are private, faith, state funded grammar (selective), and state funded secondary schools.  The problems come from the types of children that attend those schools.

Private schools are very expensive and therefore exclusive, only the richest strata of the population send their children there. The teachers tend to be reasonably good, attracted by the pay.

Grammar schools are the best state schools but you have to pass an entrance exam.  Consequently the brightest and most motivated children go there and it is natural progression for most to go on to university.

Secondary and faith schools are where everyone else goes, the worst of which tend to be treated as free childcare for disinterested parents wanting their children out of the house.

It is ghettoised education, the more the parents want their children to do well the more support they give and the better the school they are prepared to fight for and travel to.

Motivated parents will also educate their children at home as well as school, reading to the young and doing fun educational stuff as they grow.  The disinterested and unintelligent parents will do none of that and leave all education to  the system and send them to whatever school that offers a place.

In short I believe education is mainly down to the parents attitude, but that is also affected by their education and intelligence.

Alan, you have at best a loose grip on education in the US (I realize you are UK). In the US, the quality of education is mostly based on affluence. In the poorest areas with their meager tax bases, the quality is very low. 

Blaming it on parents comes down, often, to blaming them for being poor or of a minority ehnicity. Such parents are often themselves very poorly educated or are drug or alcohol addicted. Those that do work often have to work two jobs or extra hours and, as I just said, with the time they do have left over can typically offer little help beyond the children's earliest grades.

As the kids get older, the parents lose influence over the children and they are drawn away from school and to the streets.

But back to what I first said: in the US it comes down to economics. Even with affluent parents, both of whom holding down jobs, they will typically still be involved in their childlren's education and where they can't be involved, they will do what it takes to take up the slack (after school programs, tutors, etc.). They will also reward their children for excelling in ways that the poor can't or don't.


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