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Taking Issue With Claims That American Science Education is 'Dismal'

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the note-this-is-an-editorial dept.

Education 564

TaeKwonDood writes "We've all seen the stories about how 'dismal' science education in America is. It turns out that it's kind of a straw man. America has long led the world in science but the 'average' score for Americans on standardized tests has never been good. Instead, every 2 years American kids get better but we keep being told things are terrible. Here is why."

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Where is why? (-1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 2 years ago | (#40220541)

Summary ended early.

Re:Where is why? (1)

rwv (1636355) | about 2 years ago | (#40220635)

This is a discussion... maybe the summary was a teaser to get us to click the discussion where our best minds can get together refute the supposed straw man. And besides, deconstructing straw man arguments is popular around here.

Re:Where is why? (3, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40220905)

The "why" is in the article: "In 1964, the first time an international standardized test was given, American kids were next to last. In the most recent assessment, in 2009, the U.S. scored 17th in science out of 34 countries.

"So, why do Americans believe that science education is in a downward spiral when the empirical evidence shows the opposite? Because officials keep telling us that education is abysmal. Also, they seem to hold a grudge against No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which holds teachers accountable and could be responsible for the increase in test scores..... Be wary of education lobbyists who downplay our long track record of scientific success while simultaneously asking for more money. At $91,700 per pupil from kindergarten through twelfth grade, the U.S. is outspent only by Switzerland in the education arena. Cash is not a problem."

In other words we are told things are bad by UNIONS so they can demand more pay raises & more expensive toys in the classroom. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. EVERYBODY has a bias..... it's just a matter of digging to discover it.

Re:Where is why? (5, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | about 2 years ago | (#40221085)

WTF, another union bashing post? There are lobbyists everywhere - think textbook publishers, Universities, people that want to privatize the public educations system, etc. that would all gain by downplaying the success of the education system.

When you look at the pay, I don't think you can call a teacher's salary high by any standard.

Re:Where is why? (2)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#40221121)

Including the author, who is a supporter of NCLB and wants to paint it in as positive a light as possible.

Re:Where is why? (5, Insightful)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about 2 years ago | (#40221163)

I think TFA and TFS misses the point: The problem isn't that we don't have decent science education; the problem is that we don't create scientists.

Look at any science or engineering school in the U.S. and it becomes pretty clear. There are many, many more foreigners than Americans. Now go look at the liberal arts programs: Nothing but Americans. The country and the world don't need more out-of-work English majors. There not a shortage of tech jobs right now, particularly in engineering, but also in other hard sciences.

Re:Where is why? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#40221017)

Having read TFA, I believe the premise is while scientific literacy in US adults is a rather low percentage, we're still miles ahead of the rest of the world.

I, for one, would like to know what metric they use to determine a person's level of "scientific literacy."

Re:Where is why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221083)

When a strawwoman argument comes up, we're too busy to type.

Re:Where is why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220651)

Summary ended early.

Nope, his writing just reflects his American education.

Re:Where is why? (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 2 years ago | (#40220703)

Nah. It's just confusing because the summary is more informative than the typical Slashdot summary.

Re:Where is why? (5, Funny)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 2 years ago | (#40220775)

No it didn't. Here's why.

Re:Where is why? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#40220777)

Perhaps the summary is poigniantly stating the reason.

I.e., the lack of communication skills means while the test scores go up, the ability to communicate goes down so they all look like a bunch of illiterates because no one can understand them? Science can't happen if you cannot communicate your work to others...

Re:Where is why? (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#40220939)

Science can't happen if you cannot communicate your work to others...

That applies to any job. Using my place of work as an example, there is zero communication between what the other bureaus need and the IT department. We routinely have people send us an email telling us they have someone that started that day and need an account and equipment set up.

When it comes to cabling, same thing. A room gets redone, the support services area has maintenance effectively cut and pull every cable rather than leaving them in place, then we're told a few days before the people are to move in that ends for the cables need put on. In fact, as I'm writing this, my supervisor told no one in particular of this very incident. Someone sent them an email saying an end needed put on a cable for a new employee. What new employee and where is this cable?

So it's not just science that needs communication, it's everything. Yet, instead of communicating, we prefer to stick our heads in the sand and walk around with our eyes glued to a 3" screen because having to communicate is such an arduous task.

HERE is why. I had to RTF(links) (5, Informative)

x_IamSpartacus_x (1232932) | about 2 years ago | (#40220933)

Additionally, the latest study released by Universitas 21, a global network of research universities, concluded that the United States ranks No. 1 in the world in higher education — a metric that partially relies on scientific research output. (Sweden came in a distant second.)

From the description this seems like a stupid metric that would be obviously skewed towards countries with higher population. With a Sweden's population of almost 9.5 million verses the USA's 315 million one would HOPE that the scientific research output is significantly higher. While TFS doesn't go into depth about the actual metric, I figured I'd need to do some reading through some links.
I just looked at the report [universitas21.com] and it looks like the metric is more than that.

It has things like

  • Amount spent on tertiary ed (resources like "per student" "percent of GDP" "per population head" etc)
  • Proportion of female students in tertiary ed
  • Proportion of international students in tertiary ed
  • Total articles produced by higher ed facilities (gross AND per capita)

So it looks like that might not be that bad of a metric after all. It's far from perfect but there are probably few if any that are. All in all, I'm impressed that the USA is ranked number 1.

When looking through the ACTUAL scores of the different countries the USA scores a dismal 37 out of 50 in the "Proportion of international students in 3rd ed and proportion of articles co-authored by international collaborators". Where the USA far and away blows away the rest of the field is in the actual scientific article output (weighted by gross and per capita as noted above).

All in all, it's an interesting report that seems to fly in the face of most of slashdot's readership's (mine included) perception of the direction of the education system in the USA. Maybe most of the bad news is at the secondary education level?

Re:Where is why? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#40221081)

I think the key issue, is that Americans as a culture are not book learned, but practical learned. Standardized tests are good for people who read books and then can regurgitate what they read, they don't need to have a drive to really understand the information, they just need to know X = Y and they don't really care why X = Y.

Asian Cultures are far more booked learned. I remember in college there was this Chinese kid who kept of killing the Test Curve. However when he had to do project work he just sucked at it. A Senior Computer Science major shouldn't need to ask what Data Type does Decimal Points... As the information is no longer tested it left his brain. He complained how Americans never really read books. However the Top Performers did a lot of time practicing and understanding.

Funding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220599)

It's for funding. Why would you want to put MORE money into something that is working just fine? Why not lie about it....

America is still number 1.

Science VS religion. (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#40220653)

Every few years we have people trying to legislate science out of the class room because it conflicts with their vision of religion. Of course our science classes are messed up, people have a vested interest in them being so. Frankly, much of what is taught is not even science. Anyone who comes out of high school thinking that science is about facts has been done a disservice.

And on the science vs religion front. Religion has rewritten itself often to adjust to realities that science has postulated. Science has never changed based on belief. So as a betting man, my money is on science. But as a scientist, I accept the possibility that I could be wrong.

Re:Science VS religion. (1, Insightful)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | about 2 years ago | (#40220749)

Science has never changed based on belief.

Huh? Ever hear of a paradigm shift? There's a gestalt moment there where it's all about your perception of the problem. I.e.: what you believe to be so.

Re:Science VS religion. (5, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#40220795)

For it to be science, it has to be based on observable evidence and not belief. What you are talking about is the moment when what you believe is shown to be wrong, which is a change in belief and not a change in science.

Re:Science VS religion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221053)

Science has never changed based on belief.

Huh? Ever hear of a paradigm shift? There's a gestalt moment there where it's all about your perception of the problem. I.e.: what you believe to be so.

What you're just restating is that what people beleived about science changed. However, the science came first, and peoples perception of the world (belief) was changed afterwards. It's interesting that you view it as a chicken and egg type situation, however, it has always been the case that the data, theories and hypothesis come first. Sometimes an existing belief has needed to be thrown away before someone could get the idea to look at the facts in a different way, but that's not the same as a belief changing the science.

I guess there may be instances where someone had an idea about something (believed it to be true) and then set about trying to demonstrate it scientificially, maybe even with success. But that's really no different than your regular hypothesis, experiment, review cycle.

What's being discussed here, is whether or not, faith has changed science. For example, assume for arguments sake that the science showed that the earth was round, then someone looked at the bible and it was revealed that the earth was flat. With this faith to hand they then successfully demonstrated scientifically that the earth was flat. This has not happened, to my knowledge, ever. Does anyone have any real-world counter examples?

Re:Science VS religion. (4, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | about 2 years ago | (#40221039)

Every few years we have people trying to legislate science out of the class room because it conflicts with their vision of religion. Of course our science classes are messed up, people have a vested interest in them being so.

Oh Rubbish. One of the reasons why people think science education is bad is this kind of nonsense. "There's a religious conspiracy to kill science!!!". Please.

The nasty truth of it is that there are two kinds of problem with science education, and neither of them are related to religion whatsoever. The first is a huge section of students with generally poor scores in science classes and tests. But these students almost always have poor scores in everything, so it's not a science problem here, it's an education problem as a whole, which could be anything from bad teachers and schools, to.. and this is more likely... unmotivated students that frankly don't care about school, with parents that could care even less. All of the money and resources and promotion of science education in the world won't change this.

The second problem really isn't a problem at all. It comes from scientists and mathematicians and educators that are unhappy that more kids aren't taking an interest in hard science classes. We regularly see lamentations from these advocates that America is sliding to hell in a handbasket if we don't have more high schoolers taking calculus, physics, software development classes, etc. But this is foolish. Most people aren't going to become scientists anymore than most people aren't going to become engineers or symphony conductors or astronauts. Professional math and science fields tend to be an elite, populated by a few capable people that are highly motivated and truly love what they do. That's reality, and if you don't like it, tough. You can no more make more scientists out of our kids than you can make more Beethovens.One of the problems I have with movies like "Stand and Deliver" is the idea that if we just had a few more Jaime Escalantes in our classrooms, we'd have this wave of untapped Isaac Newtons just waiting to make new discoveries in math and science. And it just isn't true.

Most people are not particularly brilliant at anything. Most people, with work and experience, can become at least competent, and maybe good at something. But these somethings are usually pretty ordinary fields. Unless they destroy themselves with bad decisions... drug addiction, for example... then most kids generally gravitate to what they want to do if they have any motivation. And if they don't have any motivation, then they just work at whatever pays the bills. The former might take an interest in science, but most wont. The later is pretty much a lost case, as far as science ed goes.

All we can do is make sure there are opportunities for those interested to learn. The vast majority of these kids will. The rest... why worry about it, as far as science education is concerned? A calculus or physics class will do them no more good than a class in Sanskrit. They won't like it, and they'll forget about it, and it'll generally be a waste of time all around for all involved. The truth of it is that hard math and science really isn't for most people. Instead of trying to cram more kids in an AP Physics class, we should instead provide better general science classes to kids that are more interesting and that give an appreciation for the fact that science and math is important. What you really want is a large population that supports math and science, not one that does math and science. The later is unrealistic.

Re:Science VS religion. (5, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | about 2 years ago | (#40221041)

Why are people here so damn obsessed with religion VS science debate? It's not a significant issue (queue up apocryphal stories...). Virtually every scientist in the history of science was religious and science has progressed nicely despite the fact that the vast majority of the human population is religious.

      People tend to focus on these obscure side issues like creationism, etc. I am as conservative as they come, I was raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and spend all my time with people who are religious to one degree or another. No one I know sees a significant conflict here,

Science VS religion - A Straw Man ... (5, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#40221077)

The whole science vs religion thing is a straw man. The idea of the rational unbiased scientist is also somewhat mythological. This history of the big bang theory, the current prevailing cosmological theory on the original of the universe, is quite insightful. The theory was offered by a Roman Catholic priest. Some of the leading scientists of the day dismissed this theory merely because it was developed by a priest, they dismissed it as "smelling of creationism".

If you want to make a claim that some group is anti-science it would be accurate to say that *some* churches may be so. The truth is that many other churches are perfectly fine with science. That scientific observations and discoveries are not in conflict with faith. Again, the whole notion of the universe originating in a big bang billions of years ago came from a priest. The western tradition of the scientific method was promoted by a bishop and other members of the clergy. The Roman Catholic church operates a world class observatory doing serious cosmological research in cooperation with other leading world class universities.

To say that religion is anti-science, well, that seems to display a mindset awfully similar to some preacher claiming that the earth was created six thousand years ago. Both comments delivered with absolute authority and passion, both comments being objectively and demonstrably false, both comments none the less held as as articles of *faith* of their respective mindsets. Reality if far more complicated than either of these mindsets believe.

The whole standardized test industry is the issue (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220657)

They siphon billions away from education and into worthless metrics that tell you little of value.

Individual student assessment may be valuable, but a whole class, school, district, even state?

How much are you really learning there?

Not much. But big lobbyists want you to believe in the snake oil they're selling, and they convince a lot of people to be scared...for the CHILDREN!

Re:The whole standardized test industry is the iss (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 2 years ago | (#40220981)

They siphon billions away from education and into worthless metrics that tell you little of value.

Individual student assessment may be valuable, but a whole class, school, district, even state?

Everything, and I mean everything is a competition. A competition for accolades, for funding, even for bragging rights. Each class in a school is competing against each other using these standardized test scores. Same with the schools within a district, districts within a state, and states in the US. It's how we justify our contempt and condemnation of others.

Re:The whole standardized test industry is the iss (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40221019)

The "worthless" metrics you cite show that the U.S. rose from 33 in 1964 to 16th most recently. How is this not worth noting? And it appears President Clinton's No Child Left Behind, which requires frequent testing to measure if students are really learning, is working. Science scores are going UP not down.

Re:The whole standardized test industry is the iss (2)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#40221185)

NCLB requires frequent testing to measure if students remain prepped at taking tests. IMO learning goes down when testing-or-you-don't-graduate-and-your-teacher-is-fired-and-your-school-is-defunded-and-closed goes up.

And, strangely enough since you're supporting NCLB, you've miscredited it to Clinton. It was a Bush II law, though Clinton had something vaguely similar but watered down early in his administration.

We cannot finish a thought? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220665)

We cannot finish a thought or collect the data?

Generational complaints (4, Insightful)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 2 years ago | (#40220667)

Isn't it the right of every generation to complain of the generations coming after them? I see my kids (in public schools) having more rigorous standards and classes than when I was younger, yet I work in a bleeding edge field in the world of technology. Perhaps we have all become cynical to the point that we think kids today won't make it...although that seems to hold true by every older generation.

Re:Generational complaints (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220881)

I wouldn't call it a right so much as a fact - but more to the point, we haven't had any great advances in physics in the past half century - it's not just the next generation, we have so much indoctrination in our schools that the substance is lost.

education fund raising lobby? (1)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#40220673)

The result of all this complaining is convince legislatures to spend more money on education "to catch up". At least this true in good economic times.

How to fix public education (0, Flamebait)

Coolhand2120 (1001761) | about 2 years ago | (#40220675)

1) Close the DoE
2) Make going to school non-compulsory

Re:How to fix public education (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220743)

I think you meant "How to increase NASCAR viewership"

Re:How to fix public education (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40220851)

Ok so now we have a country full of people who did not go to school and the couple that did have been taught religious nonsense instead of useful information, what do we do now?

Your plan would kill our economy.

Re:How to fix public education (0)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#40220877)

what do we do now?

The Rapture? That seems to be peoples plan these days.

Re:How to fix public education (4, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40221115)

The grandparent poster misspoke.
He meant to say close the ONE Department of Education in the Congress. The other 50 Departments of Education would remain open, at the state level, where they are close to the parents/students being served and therefore more accountable to their demands. Democratic Republics work best when the power is only a few miles away from the People and their participation, rather than ~1500 miles away and the people's voice does not get heard.

Re:How to fix public education (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221005)

Number 2 only works if you have politicians who have the guts to tell the percentage of the public who choose not to go to school where to stuff it when they complain about the 1% who did.

Re:How to fix public education (1)

DesScorp (410532) | about 2 years ago | (#40221093)

1) Close the DoE

2) Make going to school non-compulsory

It's unlikely we'll ever do 1, and impossible that we'll ever do 2. But of 2, I will say this... I've come to agree with you that compulsory education is not seen by many students as a right, or even an opportunity, but as a burden. I've come to see as I've gotten older that you tend to want and value things more if they're not automatic and compulsory, and you want them even moreso if they have to be earned. Witness the wave of kids in India desperately trying to get into the best high schools, the way our best HS graduates desperately try to get into Ivy League schools.

Evidence contrary to TFA. (1)

khasim (1285) | about 2 years ago | (#40221099)

I think the fact that someone mod'ed that "Insightful" is all the evidence needed to contradict the USA Today story.

Re:How to fix public education (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 2 years ago | (#40221137)

3) The country crumbles because kids don't like school and wouldn't go themselves if they had the choice, stupid parents don't realize the value of education and won't force them, and thus half the country is educated out of the Bible at best. Bam, you're back in 1650.

The issue is (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#40220693)

the undue amount of focus now on standardized tests. Teaching to the test, as it where.

remember, test makers make test designed to test things kids don't know, not what kids have learned. When the teaching focus becomes teaching the test, we have difficult.

Grades should be based on participation, and how 'far' a student move forward in the subject.

A kids trying hes damndest and getting a B is better then a kid getting an easy A.

Re:The issue is (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40220899)

"Grades should be based on participation, and how 'far' a student move forward in the subject."

What's the point? Sure, effort marks might make kids feel good, but the point of a grade is to say how well you know a given subject. No, standardized tests might not be the best way to measure that.

Re:The issue is (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40220923)

Grades should be based on participation, and how 'far' a student move forward in the subject.

So what do you do when you have a student who aces every exam you throw at him, but never does homework and routinely cuts class? The problem is that no single grading standard could possibly be fair to all students, and if you give the student who aces exams without putting in any effort, you get a flood of complaints from other students and their parents about how unfair it is -- unfair that they have to work hard to understand the material.

Of course, there is a deeper issue here than being "fair," and that is the issue of why we have an education system in the first place. We do not send kids to high school so that they can learn the subjects they are taught; actually, learning is a side effect, and most people forget what they were taught in high school pretty quickly. The purpose of our high school education system is to condition people to do as they are told, whether they are told to do a boring, repetitive task or a fun and exciting task. There is no room for a student whose mind works differently and who learns by doing different things, and especially no room for a bright student who cannot work their way through the boredom.

I was told as much when I was in middle school and high school. If you do not do your homework, you get an F -- regardless of how well you understand the material, and regardless of whether or not you can demonstrate that understanding beyond any doubt. The standard answer is a complete dismissal of the idea that homework is pointless once you have internalized the material: "Well if it is so easy for you, just get it out of the way!"

Re:The issue is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221165)

No problems there, having been that student that did fine on tests but didn't get assignments done. Problem is, when you pick a job in the real world, you are going to want to make sure its high stimulus or is something that you can take ownership of, or you will suffer. Especially make sure that your employers understand your difficulties with routine tasks that may appear normal--i.e. TPS reports and their cover sheets...

Re:The issue is (3, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | about 2 years ago | (#40221161)

the undue amount of focus now on standardized tests. Teaching to the test, as it where.

remember, test makers make test designed to test things kids don't know, not what kids have learned. When the teaching focus becomes teaching the test, we have difficult.

Grades should be based on participation, and how 'far' a student move forward in the subject.

A kids trying hes damndest and getting a B is better then a kid getting an easy A.

The problem with removing standardized testing is that you'd revert to a situation where we really had no idea if they were learning anything at all before. At least if they pass the standardized tests, we know they have at least a basic grasp of that material. Testing was implemented precisely because of your "participation" idea... you had kids getting decent to good to even great grades just for "class participation"... when they really weren't learning the material.

And frankly, some of the crying about the standardized tests are just silly. It's not like these test have esoteric things on them that the students don't need to know. They're standardized so that there's an assurance of a uniform field of common knowledge that's been gained. Some of it is through rote instruction, but so what? Rote instruction can be very useful. Tweak and reform testing, but don't chuck it aside completely.

look past education: the POPULATION is dismal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220695)

A disturbing percentage of Americans don't understand the concept of a double blind placebo controlled test.

A disturbing percentage believe the universe is a few thousand years old, and that evolution never happened.

A disturbing percentage is unable to understand the difference between basic concepts like power and energy.

A disturbing percentage do not grasp the difference between causation and correlation.

A disturbing percentage are completely mathematically illiterate, unable to comprehend basic things like "fractions".

A disturbing percentage don't understand that examples are not proof.

I'm not going to argue whether our education is good or bad, but our population is HORRENDOUS. This leads to bad results for us all, because people make really, really bad decisions in their own lives and as matters of what they support, and of public policy.

It's badly, deeply broken.

Re:look past education: the POPULATION is dismal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221033)

Growing up, I was lucky enough to be in good public schools that got this point across. I remember from middle school on, the emphasis that what was being taught was a simplification, a building block to higher learning. That we're taking shortcuts to teach you important concepts. (It's also a great way to justify the emphasis of calculators in math)

That is probably the most important lesson taught to me, ever. To know that your view of the picture is probably limited in context to make it relevant to your current situation, and that your experience is probably flawed if you are not an expert. (A real, actual, literal expert)

Going in to college, I found myself absolutely shocked that this isn't what's taught to most children.

Re:look past education: the POPULATION is dismal (4, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 2 years ago | (#40221035)

And a disturbing percentage think that anything you wrote matters.

The fact is that throughout history, only a tiny minority were educated to the standards of their day. In modern times, the percentages are significantly higher and are increasing over time. That we are not at 100% does not matter. That we may never reach 100% also does not matter.

Re:look past education: the POPULATION is dismal (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 2 years ago | (#40221101)

A disturbing percentage of Americans won't understand your concerns or your point.

A disturbing percentage of American politicians can be accurately defined by your post.

Test results. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220715)

So since teachers are held accountable for test scores more than for what children learned, test scores rised. What a surprise!

No, our science education is dismal (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40220719)

Our education is great for the 1% who can afford private school, private tutors, and so forth. For the majority who need to go to public schools, our education system is terrible. The article points to the successes of those whose parents could afford to give them the best education money can buy.

My German friends were expected to be able to solve calculus problems in order to graduate high school. Calculus was considered college level when I went to high school, and still is. Girls achieving parity with boys in math is a great step forward...except that there are a large number of schools where there is no option for students who are ready to go beyond algebra and trigonometry.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (3, Interesting)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#40220827)

There's more to education than attending school 5-days a week. I practically slept through school, never studied for a test, and only brought homework home when I had to type it on my computer. Yet my GPA was still excellent. It's because I wanted to learn, not go on American Idol or join the Jersey Shore. When I got my first computer, the stipulation was that I had to fix it when it broke. So it breaks, I learn how to fix it, so I can keep playing Command and Conquer Red Alert. In that process I am learning.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40221043)

I also slept through school, and I barely passed my classes -- despite having excellent scores on my exams. I was told that not doing my homework was the reason for my low grades, and that my understanding of the material was not relevant.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220833)

German high school is 13 years (though moving to 12 years), so it is not totally compareable. Also you do not really learn calculus but just to do some standard tasks from calculus without understanding them.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40220955)

German high school is 13 years (though moving to 12 years), so it is not totally compareable. Also you do not really learn calculus but just to do some standard tasks from calculus without understanding them.

Sure, but at least in the state of New York, a person could graduation high school having taken only eleven years of math courses; a student who passes their classes is allowed to take no math courses during their final year of high school.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 2 years ago | (#40220971)

I took calculus in standard Canadian high school. We started with limits, moved through the fundamental theorem of calculus to solving integrals and derivatives, and finished with problem solving using calculus.

The course was optional, but was highly recommended if you wanted to do science or math in university. The kids who were going to work on the rigs after graduating didn't take it.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1, Informative)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | about 2 years ago | (#40220949)

Are you talking about differential calculus? In this case, i guess, somebody German mistranslated "High School". Differential calculus in Germany is either college level, or -if you choose to specialize on maths/science- part of 12th class higher leading schools, which are not "High Schools". Education systems are quite different, so there's no direct analogy but our middle schools would be next to US high schools.

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 2 years ago | (#40221007)

My German friends were expected to be able to solve calculus problems in order to graduate high school. Calculus was considered college level when I went to high school, and still is.

Really? Wow. I went to school in Perth, Western Australia. If you are doing TEE (university requirements) in Year 11, there is "Introductory Calculus", which moves onto full blown Calculus in Year 12. You have to learn differentiation, integration, volumes of rotational solids, harmonics and I can't even remember the other stuff. There is a separate "Applicable Mathematics" class in which you learned probability distributions, matrices, combinatorics and a lot of other stuff as well. Curiously, there was no Number Theory...

Re:No, our science education is dismal (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#40221049)

I got an excellent education at a public high school without having to pay a dime. It's not about how much money you put in, its about how much effort you put in. I started working hard in elementary school, and in middle school I did the Duke SAT program (where middle schoolers get to take the SAT to see how well they do)in the 7th grade (I actually scored well enough to get into many colleges). Then I got accepted into a Magnet program in high school (coincidentally located within the high school I was going to go to anyway). In fact, by the time I graduated high school I already had 21 college credits covering literature, biology, history, and economics (although I did have to pay for the AP tests, they were pretty cheap). No tutors, no private school, no outside educational programs. We even got further in my high school Calc class than my college's Honors Calc class did, and that wasn't even an AP class, it was a regular honors class. I was on the football team, so I interacted with and was friends with people of a wide range of kids from differing economic backgrounds (everything from recent immigrants to poor kids living in aprtments to a guy whose father is a VP for a major gas station chain) as well as different intellectul gifts. You know what I noticed? It was the kids that put in the effort and tried to learn that got the good grades and succeeded. I knew rich kids that were smart that did horrible, because they didn't try. And I knew some poorer kids who busted their ass and did really well.

Law of big numbers? (4, Interesting)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about 2 years ago | (#40220723)

Could it be due to the Law of big numbers that the United States of America keeps the pace?

First, the average student still is among the top 20, which is not bad considering the number of nations.

Second, the number of students in each class is drawn from a population which is about 300,000,000 citizens...

So, the best one percent still boil down to 3,000,000 people. That is a lot of bright people.

So, just from the sheer size of the US there are many more good students in absolute numbers than most other of the top 20 nations, combined!

Re:Law of big numbers? (2)

Jerry Smith (806480) | about 2 years ago | (#40221177)

"So, just from the sheer size of the US there are many more good students in absolute numbers than most other of the top 20 nations, combined!"

Yup, now think of India, China or Russia. They're cheaper as well. Scared yet?

Of course! (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about 2 years ago | (#40220731)

Attending school is about learning what is already known in the world. The ability to innovate is not present in most academic institutions, until you get into the graduate-school realm. How many computer companies were started by college drop-outs versus people with degrees? These tests measure memorization of facts which have already been proven, not the ability to create something new and radical. So while our students may not remember the date the Magna Carta was signed, they can sit around and think "I wonder if this would make things easier."

That's why the U.S. is winning the innovation sector of the sciences.

Re:Of course! (2)

solidraven (1633185) | about 2 years ago | (#40220993)

Contrary to popular believe many of the drop outs don't make it. They fail, end up without a single penny left in their pocket.
Additionally, comparing academic achievements in the US with how good the educational standard is considering it's largely based on immigrants. And these people are not a product of US education...

Last poll I saw on the subject... (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 2 years ago | (#40220747)

the US was the second lowest in the OECD [nationalgeographic.com] in terms of evolution acceptance, with just 14% saying "definitely true" and a third saying "absolutely false" (as a side note, Iceland, where I live, is #1 in terms of acceptance - whoo!)

Until the public can come to grips with the basic tenets of science, yes, America is lagging way behind.

And I'm sorry, this "Americans suck at standardized testing" excuse is one of the flimsiest I've ever heard. Their only counterevidence -- that which has been accomplished in the US and the quality of US universities -- is hardly pinned on the understanding of science of the average American. It's a combination of the understanding of science of the top percentiles of Americans combined with research and venture capital networks and a strong H1B program (scaled by a population of over 300 million).

Here's why it is views as "dismal" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220751)

Because your educational system has been co-opted by revisionist ideologues and religious nuts who want to teach children distinctly wrong versions of history, and distinctly wrong, unscientific concepts. How in the hell do you teach any science at all if you eliminate the underpinnings of geology, biology, and astronomy in an absurd universe-view that is only 6,000 years old? The ignorance on display in most casual encounters with average Americans is breathtaking.

Law of averages (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40220757)

The US is a large, extremely diverse country. Doesn't it stand to reason that if you lump every kid in such a place into a single category and test them on something that the overall results are going to come out to be about average? Maybe it's just really, really hard for anyone to upset that bell curve by too much? Maybe improving the bell curve isn't as important as we think it is? Perhaps it's the outliers that are the most important for cultural success? These are basically the questions the article asks and, while it pretends to have the answers, I doubt many or any of them are backed up by actually facts.

Personally I actually agree with them. The goal should be to get as many people as possible up to the education level that they themselves can tell if they enjoy it and excel at at, then provide resources for those who are capable of greatness to achieve that greatness.

Now there's a lead-in to comments... (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 years ago | (#40220783)

Clearly the summary's "why" is referring to the consolidated wisdom of the Slashdot cognoscenti expressed below.... :P

Do Not Quit Fretting (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40220825)

Column: Quit fretting. U.S. is fine in science education

The article is correct in a lot of respects. But one thing I personally disagree with is that we should quit fretting. If you believe you are the best in the world at something, you might quit working hard to achieve that and stagnate into irrelevance. Personally I always view myself as "behind the curve" and therefore I am always working harder to overcome my self-perceived adjustment.

Likewise, when I am judging the United States, I'm often harsh. Because it's not going to get any better if I say "Yep, education is top notch, best in the world. We're #1." Unsurprisingly enough, my Republican friends call me a self-loathing liberal because my criticisms of the United States are often harsh. Better that than the alternative of stagnation and irrelevance.

American science education might not be 'dismal' but valid criticisms abound. Also, the measurements used for it being dismal or great are almost always flawed. For example, in the article:

Yet during this period of national "mediocrity," we created Silicon Valley, built multinational biotechnology firms, and continued to lead the world in scientific journal publications and total number of Nobel Prize winners. We also invented and sold more than a few iPads. Obviously, standardized tests aren't everything.

Surely, every one of these things had influences and inspiration other than the "United States public science education"? I'm reminded of someone from Alabama chastising me for complaining about states that have low literacy rates. She reminded me that Huntsville has more post-graduate degree holders per capita than any other city in the United States. Great. Good for them. Does that have anything to do with whether or not a random 15 year old can read in Alabama? You can cherry pick statistics one way or the other, I think China's got more published academic papers per year now than any other nation ... of course the quality over quantity can be argued.

Don't be afraid to look at yourself critically -- if you don't how will you ever improve?

This is just one facet of the problem... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220837)

When one views the whole picture, there is a reason that people have grave concerns. A couple examples:

A friend of mine from China has his tuition, room, board, and such paid by the Chinese government to attend classes here in the US. He is planning to go into chemical engineering as soon as he graduates. Cost of education for degree to him? 0 yuan.

A relative of mine from Germany graduated college. His room, board, and tuition was paid for by the German government, and he is employed at a firm there developing better milling equipment. Cost to him? Zero Euro.

A friend of a friend was from Chile (you know, one of those perceived "turd world" nations) learning math so he can go back and teach calculus and differential equations to their equivalent of high school students. Cost out of pocket to him? Zero Chilean pesos.

Now compare a college student in the US who is trying to get an engineering degree. There is no stipend by the US government, scholarships just don't exist, or funds are long since depleted. Out of his pocket, he has to pay at least $50,000 to $100,000 depending on area of the country for room, board, tuition, books, and other items, and this is a public school.

So, comparing students from Germany, China, Chile, and the US, the American engineers have to pay big bucks to be in the same position where other students are, for zero cost to them.

With this in mind, and the fact that fear of not finding a job due to outsourcing makes US students look for a more lucrative major. STEM gets discouraged because it isn't as flashy as the law or business major.

The US has big problems in the science education department, and people need to look at the whole picture to understand why.

Useless Article (1)

methano (519830) | about 2 years ago | (#40220849)

I read TFA. It was basically a political screed with little useful information. However, I tend to agree with the conclusion that it ain't so bad here in America. I tend to believe that maybe we're too science literate in America. I've got a ton of friends with high quality PhD's in chemistry who find themselves out of work or under-employed. Most of the STEM worries are veiled attempts to allow companies to hire scientists at pauper wages or to get tax advantages for off-shoring scientific research.

America leader in science? Don't make me laugh. (0, Troll)

tulcod (1056476) | about 2 years ago | (#40220857)

Without a doubt, this post will get modded -1 disagree, but the truth is that all marginally useful researchers active in the USA come from Europe and Asia. America is willing to spend way billions and billions every year on a brain drain, and truth be told, they're pretty good at that: it's now come to a point where any academic here in Europe will have to consider whether he thinks going to the US for further research is worth it, or choose to live for a lower wage and keep up your standards.

Yes, good researchers often live in America, but that's because they were all, piece by piece, bought out from Europe and Asia. America a leader in science? Don't make me laugh.

Re:America leader in science? Don't make me laugh. (3, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40220927)

"Without a doubt, this post will get modded -1 disagree"

Followed by a hyperbolic attack on US researchers. Yes, Sir, you deserve to get modded down. Kind of like saying pretentiously, "I know you'll object because you can't handle the truth, but your mother is a dirty slut."

most countries have national curricula - not US (0)

peter303 (12292) | about 2 years ago | (#40220863)

There is the mantra that education should be "local", but science knows no boundaries. I think this just a smokescreen for anti-environmentalism and anti-evolution.

Ironically our most Biblical president of recent times- GW Bush- did more to federalize elementary education with his national testing standards and funding thereof, than previous secular presidents. And Romney is proposing more federal tentacles into local education too.

Re:most countries have national curricula - not US (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#40220991)

The downward pressure on nationalizing education at is core is about an attempt to reduce taxes. Look at the percentage of your local taxes going to education. I was surprised by how huge it was which suddenly made all of the anti-DoE, anti-teacher rhetoric more understandable. The proponents think that removing federal constraints will allow local governments to reduce education commitments, pursue more "profitable" solutions, then reduce the local tax rate. If schools suffer, who gives a fuck because your kid is in private school.

This is arguably a conservative political piece (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220883)

Their "scientfiic" analysis consists of:

1) Noting that science literacy among high-school aged test-takers increased 2%. with no offered hypothesis as to the cause of the increase
2) Noting that the US has top higher-education metrics (without noting the high number of foreigners producing those metrics)
3) Noting that there are some high-tech companies in the US and scientific achievements take place here sometimes
4) Noting that girls achieved parity with boys in math (not noting whether that was just because boys' scores fell, or what)
5) Noting that Bush's No Child Left Behind policies were in place during some of these events

That's it. Then they say they aren't defending NCLB and take a quick jab at Obama and immediately say they are actually not doing those things in the very next paragraph.

Also, this was a piece by RealClearPolitics, which is 51% owned by Forbes and is known for conservative bias. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RealClearPolitics

I'm... not convinced that their argument is sound, to say the least. And not only because they failed at any point to argue for a better metric than our actual test-score rankings. They basically say "we invented iPads therefore science education is fine".

This is a terrible link.

continued upward trend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220941)

The authors touting the progress of our current science education refer to 2 points as a “continued upward trend” - clearly nothing to worry about!

It is an easy claim. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40220965)

Especially when the tests get simpler every year.

Looking at a chart shows improvement...

Unfortunately the chart is worthless.

Try something simple. Take a standard test from 1955 and give it to the same class level now.

Will the current score be better?

Most unlikely.

Bullshit. (0, Troll)

bmo (77928) | about 2 years ago | (#40220969)

We are 5 voting percentage points from shoving religion into science classes nation-wide. The know-nothings and American Taliban (dominionists, christian reconstructionists, etc) are so bent upon bringing Gawd's Word and the law of Leviticus to the land that they have been trying, and succeeding, in getting into positions of power. It truly is frightening, and the next thing you know, Pi is going to equal 3 because that's what it says in the Bible.

The amount of people who believe in strict creationism is stunning. It is fully half of the US population, and another big chunk believe that God directly guides evolution if it exists at all. Anti-science is all the rage, because it makes people who don't actually know anything believe that their opinion is just as good as someone who holds a doctorate in physics.

http://news.yahoo.com/nearly-half-americans-believe-creationism-212000630.html [yahoo.com]

And these people are your neighbors, so they determine who is on the school boards and what textbooks get bought. Have we forgotten recent history? Have we forgotten the Dover PA school district?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kitzmiller_v._Dover_Area_School_District [wikipedia.org]

Have we forgotten this too?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/law-allows-creationism-to-be-taught-in-tenn-public-schools/2012/04/11/gIQAAjqxAT_story.html [washingtonpost.com]

A bill that allows Tennessee public school teachers to teach alternatives to mainstream scientific theories such as evolution will become law this month after the governor refused to sign or veto the measure, The Washington Postâ(TM)s Valerie Strauss reports.

Without good books, good curricula, and school boards that are not going to pander to the religious nutbags (or not be religious nutbags themselves as in Dover), the science education gets short shrift, which happens too often.

Yes, it is fucking abysmal, and don't let anyone tell you differently.


Politically motivated article (5, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 2 years ago | (#40220983)

Claiming that the US is #1 in the world-- check.

Vague accusations of anti-Bush bias-- check.

Implication that teachers can't stand to be held accountable-- check.

Assumption that the government spends too much on education and wants to spend more-- check.

Hinting that Obama is subverting the system for political motives-- check.

Whether or not the article has a good point-- it may be true that we're not as badly off as we think-- the article is written in a divisive way by someone who clearly leans toward the Republican end of things. Throughout the article, there's the running implication that all the doom and gloom is a scam, perpetrated by Democrats, in order to get more funding for education. However, even if we stipulate that our educational system is good, there's still another explanation: As a rule, people throughout history have believed that "the system" is falling apart and they were witnessing the downfall of civilization.

However, I would offer another interpretation of what's going on. For one thing, I would be very careful about trusting any particular standardized test, and even about trusting standardized tests in general. When you say, "Students scored higher on the ABC test this year than the year before!" you can't necessarily assume that students have been educated better. It may be a reflection of changes made to the test. The increase may not be statistically significant. It may be that the teachers started "teaching to the test" at the expense of other lessons. It may be that the school system pulled some other shenanigans to manipulate the test scores. It may be that the test was simply poorly formed in the first place, and is not actually a good reflection of the educational level of the students.

The article begins with a quote about how education is suffering, and then goes on to note that the quote is from *all the way* back in 1983. This may be a sign that the doom-saying has been going on for a long time and does not reflect a real problem. Or it might mean that the educational system has been suffering since at least as far back as 1983. In fact, I'm sure that there are people who would claim that to be the case.

short summary (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#40220985)

The article says it's ok because in the 60s science education was even worse, and we still did things like the Space Program and Silicon Valley, besides China has even worse science literacy (among adults), so that's why we don't need to worry.

Personally I think our biggest problem is that the natural incentives are wrong, from the top to the bottom. Thus you have teachers who are really good being pushed out [wikipedia.org], whereas crappy teachers can get tenure after two years and are very hard to fire (note this makes it hard to mentor teachers who could otherwise be good, since it is high risk). You have students who are being taught garbage, [textbookleague.org] no wonder they're bored. Superintendents are stuck as paper-work monkeys, since they have to navigate all the red tape, and legislatures are trying to score political points by starting arguments about evolution.

I would guess if you let parents choose the schools, maybe use a voucher system or something, then it would start to improve. Schools that showed good outcomes would become more popular, and schools that showed worse outcomes would cease to exist. This would be based on real world outcomes, not on synthetic, standardized tests. This is something I'd like to see implemented on a small scale, maybe in a few states, and if it works, could be expanded. If it doesn't then we can try something else. That is the advantage of the federal system, after all.

Without reading TFA... (5, Informative)

toadlife (301863) | about 2 years ago | (#40220989)

...I would guess that the answer is poverty. My wife and I went to see Cornell West speak several months ago and one of the things he pointed out about our educational system is that if you take out the test scores of children who are living in poverty, the U.S. ranks at or near number one in the world in education.

Currently the U.S. has the second worst child poverty rate of the 23 countries listed here [nationmaster.com], and higher education rankings general correlate with lower child poverty rates.

Problem is... (2, Informative)

TallDarkMan (1073350) | about 2 years ago | (#40220997)

At $91,700 per pupil from kindergarten through twelfth grade, the U.S. is outspent only by Switzerland in the education arena. Cash is not a problem.

...what we actually have to do is spend that much on each student, rather than on the over-paid administration.

A counter, from Slate (1)

whitroth (9367) | about 2 years ago | (#40221011)

American kids should be building rockets and robots, not taking
standardized tests.

On a morning visit to a Northern California middle school, I saw not a
single student. The principal showed me around campus, but I didn’t see or
hear students talking, playing, or moving about. The science lab was
empty, as were the library and the playground. It was not a school
holiday: It was a state-mandated STAR testing day. The school was in an
academic lockdown. A volunteer manned a table filled with cupcakes, a
small reward for students at day’s end.

This is what the American public school looks like in 2012, driven by
obsessive adherence to standardized testing. The fate of children, their
schools, and their teachers are based on these school test scores. I
wondered what kind of tests the students were taking. The California
Department of Education’s STAR website has sample test questions, and I
started looking through them randomly. Soon, I came across the following
reading comprehension question about the proper use of a microscope, shown
in the illustration below.
Proper Care and Use of a Microscope diagram

As I examined the test question, two things became apparent.

        The test has become a teaching tool. Since students weren’t expected
to know from experience what a microscope is, the test must explain
what a microscope does, what the parts are named, and how to use it.
        It failed to convey that the whole purpose of having a microscope is
to see things that you can’t see with the naked eye.
--- end excerpt ---

And while we're at it, tell me how many kids, or adults in the US, "don't believe" in evolution. Or spending more money on basic research (something corporations *don't* do). Or how many characters on TV are competant to clean their toasters without getting electrocuted.


the best or highest average? (1)

dropadrop (1057046) | about 2 years ago | (#40221055)

I'm from Finland which always does well in these tests, though we don't have any (internationally) praised universities or a lot of anything else remarkable.

I've understood we do well because of how little bad cases we have, rather then how good our top students are. I don't know what's more important on the long run, the top students would certainly come up with more groundbreaking ideas and research, while in theory a higher average could keep national unrest and criminality levels low.

Anyway, my picture from here on the other side of the world is that you have some of the best schools and students, and if somebody is really bright he will have a lot more possibilities there then here. On the other hand I imagine you also have a lot of people who don't get very good quality education, and that if you are a drop out from a bad family nobody will give a lot of effort to help you out.

50+% believe Creationism over Evolution. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221089)


Tests, Opinions, and Other Things (1)

Gimbal (2474818) | about 2 years ago | (#40221119)

I understand that the matter of students' performance on standardized tests could serve to produce some statistical basis for discussion. It's my impression that for some points of view in which it would be held that national science education is lacking, those points of view may not be based so much on results of standardized tests, however, as much as on opinion and, perhaps, also experience - namely experience outside of the context of any predictable, standardized test.

Then again, I'm also no fan of the idea, "We're doing good enough.* Let's do even worse, 'cos we can relax now, after all."

* or well enough either.

FTA - NCLB (1)

AtomicAdam (959649) | about 2 years ago | (#40221127)

Revealing my age. I will say that I was taught that "No child left behind" was terrible during my Senior year of HS. But FTA

Yes, that's right. Test scores have increased since NCLB passed in 2002. Reading scores also are up slightly, and girls achieved parity with boys in mathematics. This is a monumental victory.

I guess holding someone accountable for what they do, DOES make them work harder.

Be wary of education lobbyists who downplay our long track record of scientific success while simultaneously asking for more money. At $91,700 per pupil from kindergarten through twelfth grade, the U.S. is outspent only by Switzerland in the education arena. Cash is not a problem. If we are to fix the science education "problem" — to the extent that there even is a problem — the current data support adding science to NCLB. Instead, the Obama administration is issuing waivers. Our point is not to defend NCLB or any particular policy. But, right now, this much is clear: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I should point how that my teachers were the people who taught me that NCLB was terrible. I wonder why.

Watch out big oil ... education lobbyists are here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40221145)

Please! I run a science lab in a top research university in US, and there are almost no Americans around. Despite the admission/recruitment being seriously stacked in their favor, most of them don't have neither the preparation nor motivation to study science. That's not to say that all the candidates from abroad are amazing, but most of them have the background that allows them to catch up quickly. The difference is so striking, it would be laughable to deny it.

And while I realize that TFA talks about earlier stage of education, it's ludicrous to claim success on the merits that 18yr olds can pass a basic reading/math test. If we don't have a system that brings high-end education to a substantial portion of the population, we'll get relegated into a third-world country in a matter of decades.

Article fails to adopt scientific method (1)

melonman (608440) | about 2 years ago | (#40221153)

That is a truly terrible article.

To summarise the logic of TFA, America doesn't do well at standardised international tests, but the average level of scientific education is clearly dazzling because of Silicon Valley in general and the iPad in particular. Except that, last time I looked, the iPad was using a processor core designed in Cambridge, UK. I believe there are one or two other foreign contributions to Silicon Valley.

And, even if that were not the case, what percentage of people resident in the US work in Silicon Valley?!

My impression of US education is that, like many other aspects of America, the bell curve is very wide. The best of US education is possibly the best in the world. The worst is very bad. So, if "American education" means "the best of American education", there's nothing to worry about. If it means "what 90% of Americans have understood about science", or even "median American comprehension of science", the answer might be different. Or not. But the quality of science is not about whether or not a huge multinational with most of its labour outsourced can ship a commercial product.

(FWIW, I'm writing this in France, and I don't get the impression that science teaching here is great either.)

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