Arts United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Labo.

Education's impact on economic competitiveness : hearing before the Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and Humanities of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session ... February 2, 1995 online

. (page 13 of 15)
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/n America are not being educated with the knowledge and skills necessary to be competitive
in this new national and world economy. They will become casualties in an undeclared 'war
against ignorance. '

By corurast, our top global competitors are nations with strong public education
systems. Their national governments invest scarce public dollars in the race to develop
knowledge workers — tomorrow's vital resource. According to Peter Drucker, the
internationally-recognized authority, this knowledge can be acquired only through formal
schooling. "Education will become the center of the knowledge society, and the school its
key institution ... the performance of the schools and the basic values of the schools will be
of increasing concern to society as a whole, rather than being considered professional matters
that can safely be left to educators. " Knowledge knows no boundaries. It is portable, not
tied to any country. It can be created anywhere, anytime and any place. Finally, it is by
definition always changing. How well an individual, an organization, an industry or a
country does in acquiring and applying knowledge is now becoming the key competitive
factor. Competitive knowledge is information disciplined by responsible personal and civic
values, and skillfiilly applied to improving the quality of life for self, family and others.
Individuals who acquire these 'knowledge assets' through education are preparing to be life-
long students, responsible parents, accountable citizens, informed consumers and productive
workers.

Knowledge as the key resource is fundamentally different from the traditional key
resources measured by economists - land, labor and capital. There is no domestic
knowledge and no international knowledge. There is only knowledge. With knowledge as
the key resource, there is only a world economy...' This means that market forces of the
world economy, rather than the national economy, determines our competitiveness. Every
country, every industry, and every business will have to consider its competitive standing in
the world economy when making its decisions, especially with regard to the development of
its knowledge resources.



96

Ehmentary/Seeondary Public Education (K-12) Student Performance
Against International Student Performance Standards

Vince Lombardi, the popular "American philosopher," has said, "If you don't measure and
keep score - you're only practicing." It's past time we started to measure our student
performance against world-class standards, if we are to become individually and nationally
competitive in today's global knowledge economy.

For the past century, our K-12 public school system, the foundation of our
educational system, has been largely funded and operated by state and local governments.
While states have the primary responsibility under the Constitution to finance and operate
public schools, national economic competitiveness and security demand that educational
competitiveness also become a top federal priority before it is too late for our children and
grandchildren. Despite the courageous efforts of dedicated educators, American student
performance is rapidly becoming an international embarrassment and a failed democratic
promise to at least half of America's children. Today our public schools educate 42 million
snjdenu in 83,500 schools. In the next few years, another 7.1 million children will enroll in
schools. Yet, only one of two American youths between the ages of 17 and 21 is developing
the competitive knowledge to succeed in college, hold a productive job. and participate
responsibly as a citizen, parent or consumer (see Diagram, An American Catastrophe: The
Growing Gap). By our continuing failure to seriously invest in people, we have sacrificed
one generation of American citizens and are risking a second.^

Academic achievement of students in the 1990s is no better than it was in the early
1970s, although in the past two years, pertbrmance in reading, science and math is on the
rise. More students are taking core academic subjects and participating in advanced
placement courses. But the context is different in that the global knowledge economy
requires achieving world-class standards for better-paying jobs. The National Assessment
(NAEP) reports consistently poor performance by American students, when compared with
other students in modem nations, in mathematics, science, geography, history, civics,
literature, writing skills and the arts. This not too surprising given that the United States
invests a lower percent of its GDP in K-12 education and provides only 180 school days per
year compared with England's 192, Germany's 210 and Japan's 243 days.'

In 1990, only one out of every five American students in Grade 8, and one out of
every eight students in grades 4 and 12 had met performance standards in mathematics. In
1991, 13-year-old Americans were outperformed by students in Korea, Switzerland and
Taiwan m all areas tested on an international mathematics assessment, and by students in



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Online LibraryArts United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on LaboEducation's impact on economic competitiveness : hearing before the Subcommittee on Education, Arts, and Humanities of the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, United States Senate, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session ... February 2, 1995 → online text (page 13 of 15)