“US education is still the best in the world – but here’s what we can learn from others”

In a recent article on the education website www.eschoolnews.com, Daniel Domenech argues that the US educational system is the best in the world.  He cites as support that the United States is the most powerful country in the world with the largest economy.  How, he asks, has the United States become so successful? The educational system upon which our economy is built must be doing something right.  Further, the US education system is the best its ever been with graduation rates
reaching record highs and dropout rates at record lows.

Does this mean that there is no room for improvement in the way that the US currently does education?  Absolutely not, argues Domenech.  There is much that we can learn from other countries.

Europe: Academic or Vocational Track

Europe (more specifically Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Malta):  In these countries, once students pass the eighth grade they are given the option to enter either an academic track or a vocational track.  If they opt for the vocational track (and 60% do), then they spend half their time in school and the other half employed in apprenticeship programs in private sector companies.  Upon graduation from high school they can then elect to go to work for these companies or pursue additional “technical” education.

Why might it be in the best interest of the United States to use Europe as a model?  Europe’s youth unemployment is in the single digits.  Compare that to our youth unemployment rate, which is in the double digits.  If the United States offered paid vocational tracks for its students, perhaps the third of US students who currently drop out might consider continuing education.

Finland, Singapore: Ongoing Teacher Training

Finland,Singapore:  In these countries, education and the ongoing development of educators is greatly emphasized.  These countries invest both time and money in continuing teacher development.  As the quality of the teacher is the single most important variable influencing student success, it would make sense for the US to implement teacher monitoring and evaluation programs, and to then tailor specific programs to help teachers to improve.

Vietnam: No Government Funding for Private Schools

Vietnam: In Vietnam, the well-to-do attend private schools.  In Vietnam, however, private schools are subject to the same regulations that public schools are, and are not eligible for government support.  The U.S. could learn from this model by not diverting government funds from public education to support private education.

All in all, the US educational system is something to be very proud of, argues Domenech.  But we’d do well to take some pointers from other countries.

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