Last week, the 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test scores were released. American students’ grade? Not so good.
American 15-year-olds ranked 39th internationally in math. Our kids are scoring lower than peers in countries our students couldn’t find on a map. This score marks a drop from our 2012 performance, which in turn was a drop from the test in 2009. (The test is administered every three years.) U.S. performance in reading and science also declined since 2009. “We’re losing ground,” said Education Secretary John B. King Jr. “A troubling prospect when, in today’s knowledge-based economy, the best jobs can go anywhere in the world.” Clearly, a new approach is needed.
Teacher unions are the largest influence in the running of too many American schools. Predictably, those unions have tried to pass the buck by attributing poor grades to a lack of government funding. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten and her team are ground zero for these failures and lame excuses. She claims the low scores “were predictable given the impact of the last 15 years of U.S. education policies combined with continuing state disinvestment .” Translation: We need more money.
But this whining from Ms. Weingarten doesn’t pass the smell test. According to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data, the United States spends roughly one-third more per student ($11,700) than the 35-nation OECD average.