The headline on this post is inspired by both the 1992 Clinton campaign meme, and by my personal belief – shared by many – that education in the U.S. is in trouble, and will sink us if we don’t act decisively and quickly to change a broken system.

State of Education infographc

The infographic tells the story. You can click it to open up the source in a new tab, and get the full weight of the problem broken down pretty darn well.

Some high(low?)lights:

  • only 30% of U.S. students in K-12 are grade-proficient in math and reading
  • 70% (that’s SEVENTY PERCENT, my friends) of 8th graders can’t read at grade level
  • Every 26 seconds, an American kid drops out of school (can you say “brain drain”?)
  • There are only 50 million skilled workers in the U.S. – there are 123 million skilled job openings (still wonder why jobs get outsourced?)
  • In Finland, South Korea, and Singapore, teachers are drawn from the top 1/3 of college graduates. In the U.S. they’re typically from the bottom 1/3 of college graduates. Looks like the old cliché “those that can’t, teach” might be true?
  • Newly-minted lawyers in the U.S.  make, on average, $115,000 per year more than a newly-minted teacher here. Newly-minted engineers and lawyers earn less than teachers in South Korea and Singapore. Is that math you can understand?
  • The U.S. comes in at 30th in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading when stacked up against global competition.

Is the picture starting to become clear to you? We’re in trouble, not just right now, but our future’s looking pretty dim, too.

If we can’t educate our children at a level that makes them – and our society – competitive globally, we’re looking like Rome after the lead poisoning set in: bleedin’ dim, and getting dimmer.

Dim and dimmer, that’s us!

The fix should be to put more muscle – in time, in talent, in treasure – behind education. But you and I both know that our fiscal cupboard is bare, and there’s little will in Congress – or money floating around on K Street – for teachers when defense spending is so much more … fun. I mean, education money doesn’t buy sexy new fighter jets, or aircraft carriers to keep those Somali pirates in line. Boo yah!

Uh, guess what? We’ll run out of money to build fighter jets and aircraft carriers if we don’t educate our kids to figure out better ways to build them.

That’s just one industry: defense.

What about healthcare, the hottest topic of the last decade? Rising costs there are bankrupting families, and could bankrupt the country, if we don’t have the smarts to solve the problem

Our middle-tier rankings in science and math education spell doom there, too.

If government isn’t going to take up the challenge, due to budget constraints and broke-ass-ness, who will? Is it time to evaluate a non-public option, and invite American enterprise to invest in charter schools across the U.S. to help us get back to the top of the Best & Brightest List?

Weigh in now. It’s almost too late, kids.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it …


It’s the education, stupid …
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