Wednesday, April 01, 2009

America Needs To Go International In Education by Akindele Akinyemi



America makes too many excuses for our children not being able to compete in a global society. It does not matter who controls the educational system what matters is the end results. A failing education in our society is a immediate threat to national security. As much as we spend on education in the United States we are still lagging behind.

In fact, U.S students spend less time at school and studying than do the students of international nations that beat out U.S students in the aforementioned subject areas. It seems the U.S is fast falling behind in the technological advancement it started years ago.

H-1B workers are international professionals that come into the U.S to work under an H-1B visa and take a position in the Industrial Technology industry. An increase in H-1B workers being utilized in U.S IT corporations in recent years tells tale of the poor standards of education U.S graduates are receiving. They are ill prepared, and ill qualified to find a position, and to contribute anything significant to the country. This relates to the fields of electronics development, engineering, and medical research as well.

Urban conservatives in the silver rights movement should be active in moving and pushing education into a 21st century priority. There is no way we can transform urban communities (or ANY communities) if we still think we are in the 19th century.

We need to understand how high school students in Japan, France, Germany spend more than twice as many hours studying math, history and science as U.S. students. In these countries about half of all students take advanced examinations: a third pass. Only 6.6% of U.S. students take advanced placement exams and 4.4% pass.

The average days in school in Japan is 240 while South Korea is at 222,Taiwan 222, Israel 215, and the U.S. is last at 178. In addition, other countries school days tend to be longer, they assign more homework and apply more discipline in the classroom. These items alone place U.S. youth at a significant competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace.

Despite astronomical increases in spending, educational attainment levels have declined and are nothing short of criminal, especially in most of our large inner cities including our Nation's Capitol. Our graduation rate statistics are meaningless because we have been graduating students from high school with grade school attainment levels ( in other words twelve years of schooling is not twelve years of education).

People are applauding President Obama's $100+ billion educational stimulus package. WHY?
  1. The problem IS NOT insufficient money. It might even be too much money. Bigger schools do not improve education.
  2. Instead of improving the system we have been dumbing down the requirements. Remedial education courses at our colleges and universities have been skyrocketing, because our secondary schools have failed to prepare students for college and the real world of work world.
  3. Our public school monopoly controlled by the teacher unions and the educational bureaucracy are inhibiting real improvement.
Was anyone surprised with the release in December 2007 of the results of the newest International Math & Science Test Series showing U.S. 8th graders showed no improvement on the same test as our 8th graders scored on the prior series, when they scored behind 27 other nations ? The quality gap is real, compared to foreign nations today, and to prior generations at home.

A 2006 US News & World Report study showed that students in Japan, Germany & France:
  1. Spend 100% more hours studying math, science and history than U.S. students.
  2. 50% of all students in these countries take advanced examinations, compared to but 6.6% in U.S.
  3. The students in these countries are 8 times more intense in pushing for measurable quality at advanced levels of learning.
Not only do more foreign students take advanced exams, but the same data shows:
  1. How their passing rate is 8 times higher than U.S. (33% vs. 4%).
  2. How a foreign school of 1,000 students produces 165 advanced exam graduates vs. only 3 advanced graduates in the same size U.S. school.
  3. How foreign schools having a success rate 57 times higher than U.S. schools for advanced examinations.
A picture emerges of a very dangerous deal for U.S. students and the future of the U.S. economy concerning foreign trade balance of payments, standards of living and national security.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) was developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental organization of industrialized countries. This was to assess the reading, mathematics and science literacy of 15-year-olds in participating countries. PISA assesses how well prepared students are for life beyond the classroom by focusing on the application of knowledge and skills to problems with a real-life context.

Average scores of 15-year-old students on combined science literacy scale, by jurisdiction: 2006

OECD Jurisdictions

Finland 563
Canada 534
Japan 531
New Zealand 530
Australia 527
Netherlands 525
Korea, Republic of 522
Germany 516
United Kingdom 515
Czech Republic 513
Switzerland 512
Austria 511
Belgium 510
Ireland 508
Hungary 504
Sweden 503
Poland 498
Denmark 496
France 495
Iceland 491
United States 489
Slovak Republic 488
Spain 488
Norway 487
Luxembourg 486

Average scores of 15-year-old students on mathematics literacy scale, by jurisdiction: 2006

OECD jurisdictions

Finland 548
Korea, Republic of 547
Netherlands 531
Switzerland 530
Canada 527
Japan 523
New Zealand 522
Belgium 520
Australia 520
Denmark 513
Czech Republic 510
Iceland 506
Austria 505
Germany 504
Sweden 502
Ireland 501
France 496
United Kingdom 495
Poland 495
Slovak Republic 492
Hungary 491
Luxembourg 490
Norway 490
Spain 480
United States 474
Portugal 466

In its report the OECD cited that the United States of America's score placed it in a group called "significantly below average."

Were you surprised in February 2008 to read that China produced four times more B.S. engineering degrees than the U.S., and Japan twice as many. Additionally, Nobel Prize-winning scientist R.E. Smalley of Rice University reported "by 2010, 90% of all Ph.D. physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asian living in Asia."

The International Math & Science Study reported how U.S. 12th graders were out-performed by 90% of other nations in math and 76% in science. In advanced math the U.S. was out performed by 94% and in science by 100% of other nations. What is worse is that our students fall further behind those from other nations the longer ours are in school.

For example, our 4th graders performed mediocre since 46% of other nations outscored them in math. But it gets worse. By the time they were in the 8th grade they were outperformed by 68% of the other nations. And, lastly as mentioned above, by the time they were in the 12th grade they were outperformed by 90% of other foreign nations. This is indeed shocking, signaling that an education gap opens up wider and wider vs. other nations as ours progress from one grade to another.

Were you surprised back in June 2004 when Achieve, Inc., a bipartisan, nonprofit education organization formed by governors and prominent business leaders, found that math and English tests for high school diplomas require only middle school knowledge, and found those math graduation tests measure only what students in other countries learn in the seventh grade?

Currently, there is no graduation standard in the U.S by which to judge a student's grasp of math and science. Some would argue that such tests as the SATs and ASVAB are high school students gauge of mathematic and scientific understanding. However, countries such as Japan, whose average math score is 51 points over that of the U.S, and whose science score is 57 points higher than the U.S, require entrance and exit examinations for high school students.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2007), "U.S. 15-year-olds performed below the international average of 29 industrialized countries in both mathematics literacy and problem solving in 2007." These countries include the aforementioned Japan, as well as China, Korea, the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Australia, among others.

Part of the problem is how most U.S. high school students don’t take advanced science; they opt out, with only one-quarter enrolling in physics, one-half in chemistry.

Another issue we hardly ever talk about are the textbooks. As younger, inexperienced teachers are thrown into classrooms to meet new federal standards, as much as 90 percent of the burden of instruction rests on textbooks. This is where people miss the boat. They don’t realize how important the textbooks are. Americans talk about shutting down the U.S. Department of Education, charters, saving failing public schools, vouchers and more teachers, but education is about the books.

Many textbooks appear more aimed to political and cultural correctness as a priority instead of aimed only to 100% accurate AND relevant information and disciplined learning of the subject. As a result, student mastery of a subject is not only diminished or partly destroyed but it's often skewed to information that is plain wrong (or slanted, or one-sided) due to major text errors and other objectives - - a form of child abuse.

85% of middle school students use inaccurate science textbooks and, honors high school texts are no more difficult than an eighth grade reader was before World War II.

Twelve of the most popular science textbooks used in middle schools nationwide are riddled with errors, a new study found.

American textbooks are both grotesquely bloated and light as a feather intellectually, flitting briefly over too many topics without examining any of them in detail. Worse, too many of them are pedagogically dishonest, so thoroughly massaged to mollify competing political and identity-group interests as to paint a startlingly misleading picture of America and its history.


We have a long way to go, in a world that will become more and more internationally and technologically competitive for the U.S. than any prior time in history. The future living standards of our young generation and their national security are on the table.

It's time to significantly increase measurable quality standards and hurdles at every level of the process not lower them, or dilute them. Lets forget about using excuses for poor quality performance to justify non-action. Instead, lets mobilize to eliminate the international gap. This will require education system changes concerning quality delivery, its management and accountability not more money per student.

And while I agree with getting federal government out of the education business and turning the power over to the states and local governments that is NOT going to happen anytime soon.

Finland's educational system is controlled by their federal government and has consistently been among the highest scorers worldwide. The French educational system is highly centralized, organized yet 99% of the men and women are literate. Nigerians have the Ministry of Education controlled by government. Yet, Nigerians come to America and become affluent and well educated. Education in Hong Kong is similar to the United Kingdom. The system can be described as extremely competitive by global standards. Japan has a Ministry of Education that runs the public schools, yet Japan has one of the strongest educational systems in the world. Education in South Korea is controlled by a centralized administration that oversees the process for the education of children from K-12. Extracurricular activities such as physical education is not considered important as it is not regarded to be education and therefore many schools lack high-quality gymnasiums and varsity athletics. South Korea was the first country in the world to provide high-speed Internet access from every primary, junior, and high school.

All these educational systems are government controlled. Until the day comes where we can eliminate the federal government out of education we need to be creative in our approach to making education more internationally competitive from K-12.

Education should be the main policy discussion in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. Any policymaker would take advantage of this opportunity to create better strategies to help our children compete GLOBALLY. We can continue missing the ship for our children or deal with real time issues such as true educational reform to help America become strong again in the years to come.

1 comment:

Serpico said...

I admit that I did not read your entire blog entry, but the portion regarding H-1B did get my attention.

You state, "An increase in H-1B workers being utilized in U.S IT corporations in recent years tells tale of the poor standards of education U.S graduates are receiving. They are ill prepared, and ill qualified to find a position, and to contribute anything significant to the country." These statements are woefully ignorant.

The majority of H-1B visas are awarded to citizens of India, mostly in the IT field (refernece-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:H1b_demographics.jpg). Now, please take a look at the following: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IQ_and_the_Wealth_of_Nations

After viewing the aforementioned two references, one can see that the United States is ranked 23rd in IQ score (with an estimated average IQ of 98) is well above that of India which ranks 61st in IQ score (with an estimated average IQ of 81).

Furthermore, the H-1B visa has long been known for vast loopholes which allow employers in the US to legally hire H-1B visa holders at a cost that is below the national average for a given job category (i.e., software developer), hence the demand for H-1B visa workers. Vivek Wadhwa, Duke University Professor and researcher at Harvard Law School's Labor and Worklife Program, even graciously admits that he himself drastically
underpaid his H-1Bs during his tech CEO days:
http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticleSrc.jhtml?articleID=201000479

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/Archive/CaseStudyH1BUnderpayment.txt

http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=12&q=http://www.soc.duke.edu/GlobalEngineering/pdfs/media/GettingTheNumbers/science_feeling.pdf&ei=jr-sSaS0JYmQtQOs9u3IBA&usg=AFQjCNE1I2X0d5Aih-w5_tYXss2b5LlgDQ

Wadhwa also acknowledges that there is no tech labor shortage in the US:

http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/Archive/DukeOffshoringStudies.txt

http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticleSrc.jhtml?articleID=201000479

Moreover, while corporate America loves to laud H-1B visa workers as the "best and the brightest", studies have been done which suggest that this is not the case (http://www.cis.org/articles/2008/back508.html). The claim of "best and brightest" is unfounded. The employer-sponsored green card categories used by the tech industry consist of three levels, EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3, in order from most to least talented. The fact is that there have been long waits in recent years only for EB-3, which is for ordinary workers of no special talents. See:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=U&start=12&q=http://www.soc.duke.edu/GlobalEngineering/pdfs/media/GettingTheNumbers/science_feeling.pdf&ei=jr-sSaS0JYmQtQOs9u3IBA&usg=AFQjCNE1I2X0d5Aih-w5_tYXss2b5LlgDQ
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9910492
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/feb2007/sb20070208_968450.htm
http://heather.cs.ucdavis.edu/Archive/WadhwaIII.txt

Wadhwa agrees that older engineers and programmers--this is age 35, not 55, mind you--have trouble getting work, and that the H-1B program, which consists overwhelmingly of young workers, is a major cause of the older Americans' difficulty.
http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan2008/tc20080115_576235.htm

Lastly, I'd like to mention the abuse of the H-1B visa laws perpetrated by immigration lawyers. The immigration law firm, Cohen & Grigsby held their Seventh Annual Immigration Law Update on May 15, 2007. A video of the meeting was taken and excerpts cut out of it and placed on the website YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCbFEgFajGU). The video shows how, in this meeting, the law firm discussing and teaching employers how to run these ads in order to avoid hiring US citizens.

Lawrence M. Lebowitz, Vice President of Marketing for Cohen & Grigsby opens in the video clip by saying, "Our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested US worker...our objective is to get this person a green card...so certainly we are not going to try to find a place where applicants would be most numerous. We're going to try to find a place where we're likely not to find qualified and interested US applicants".