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Volume 18
Number 1


Editor’s Comment

Declining American Educational
Standards Provide A Strong Incentive
For School Choice Programs

There can be no doubt that American educational standards continue to decline. Consider BAMA Companies, which has been making pies and biscuits in Oklahoma since the 1920s. Now, the company has been struggling to find American workers with the skills to fill even its most basic factory jobs. Such positions require workers to think critically, yet graduates of local schools are often unable to read or do simple math. For this reason, the company recently decided to open a new factory in Poland -- its first in Europe. “We hear that educated people are plentiful,” said Paula Marshall, BAMA’s boss.

Poland has made dramatic gains in education in the past decade. Before 2000, only half of the country’s rural adults would finish primary school. Yet, international rankings now put Poland’s students well ahead of America’s in science and math -- the strongest predictor of future earnings -- even as the country spends far less per pupil.

In her new book, “The Smartest Kids In The World: And How They Got That Way,” Amanda Ripley credits Poland’s swift turn-around to Miroslaw Handke, the former minister of education. When he took office in 1997, Poland’s economy was growing but Poles seemed destined for low-skilled jobs other Europeans didn’t want. He launched a program of school reforms, with a new core curriculum and standardized tests. His most effective change may have been to expect the best work of all his students. He kept all students in the same schools until they were 16, delaying the time when some would have entered vocational tracks.

                     INSIDE STORIES

  • Economic Inequality3
  • Transmitting History and Culture5
  • Latest Polls7
  • How Congress Extorts Money8
  • Crony Capitalism and Free Enterprise11
  • Do Members Read Bills?13

The evidence of U.S. decline is clear. Only 32 per cent of U.S. high school students are proficient in math on the...

(continued on page 2*)

Complete January-March 2014 Lincoln Review Letter*

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