As reported in the Wall Street Journal, "The results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ... show that teenagers in the U.S. slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009; from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics."
It's abundantly clear that teachers, school boards, administrators and parents bear the blame for the continued deterioration of our students' performance. All share the blame for expectations that are far too low, grade erosion, lack of standards at home that put academic performance ahead of other activities.
The best characterization of the sad state of education is a comment made to me by a physician friend who teaches surgery in a US medical school. "I'm seeing more and more international students in my classes. Why? US students don't have the necessary science and math skills, nor the academic work ethic, to succeed as doctors."
The solution? Elect school board members who will demand that teacher evaluations be toughened, curriculum be made far more challenging, good teachers rewarded to reflect their performance and the establishment of metrics to measure the performance of the district. Parents need to let their kids know that math grades are more important than playing sports or cheerleading.
Hilton Head Island