Brian Snyder / Reuters

Why American Education Fails

And How Lessons From Abroad Could Improve It

In his landmark 1973 book, The Coming of Post-industrial Society, the sociologist Daniel Bell heralded the United States' transition from a labor-intensive economy that produced goods to a knowledge-based one geared toward providing services. No longer could success be achieved through manual, assembly-line work; it would require advanced skills and creativity. At least since then, American politicians and pundits have regularly stressed that education holds the key to the country's future. Everyone seems to agree that good schools are prerequisites for broad economic prosperity, individual social mobility, and a healthy civil society in which informed voters engage in the public issues of …

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