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The U.S. educational system needs top-to-bottom rehabilitation. The nation’s long-term economic growth depends on it. And the strength of that growth — remember, we’re aiming for 4% annually — is directly related to the quality of our schools, according to Eric A. Hanushek, a fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. The quality of public education has been declining for several decades. Dropout rates are climbing and student performance is falling. A political firefight has ensued, but the fighting is mainly over money and power, not about helping our students do better. Stakes are high. Writing in the new book “The 4% Solution,” Hanushek calculates that boosting public school students’ test scores in math and science to the level currently achieved by their German peers would increase the U.S. economic growth rate by 0.5 of a percentage point. Raising the scores even higher, to the level of Canadian students, would accelerate U.S. annual growth by 0.8 of a percentage point, he figures. As the son of a teacher and school superintendent, I’m fascinated by ideas to improve education. One startling suggestion was presented in The New York Times by Andrew Hacker, a professor emeritus of Queens College, City University of New York: Let’s do away with algebra. More precisely, reserve algebra, geometry, calculus, and trigonometry for those students who are interested (and motivated) and teach practical quantitative skills to those who aren’t. (We had “general math” back in my high school in the 1950s.) He writes that algebra, et. al., is frequently cited as the reason many students drop out, and that most graduates don’t use it in their jobs anyway. Hacker argues his case well, but I’m not in position to judge whether it makes sense, educationally. It pleases me, though, that at last we’re seeing some discussion of classroom curricula instead of educational infrastructure.
2012 Economic Growth Fellow
John Prestbo is retired as editor and executive director of Dow Jones Indexes. Previously he was markets editor at The Wall Street Journal. He has co-authored or edited several books over the past 30 years. The most recent is “The Market’s Measure: An Illustrated History of America Told Through the Dow Jones Industrial Average,” published in 1999 by Dow Jones Indexes. His column, Indexed Investor, appears on the highly regarded “MarketWatch” business and finance website. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University.Full Bio
TARIFFIED: Trade Talk with Matthew Rooney
This week, trade relations between the U.S. and India are continuing to escalate. Earlier this month, the U.S. stopped granting India special trade privileges by taking away the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, and India has responded by enforcing more tariffs of its own. The George W. Bush-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Director Matthew Rooney breaks down the trade conflict: For more information on trade groups and the global economy, visit www.bushcenter.org/scorecard.
How Trade Spreads Holiday Cheer
It is projected that the average American household will spend more than $1,000 during the holidays this year.
Deporting Salvadorans May Lead to Economic Decline
We should think carefully about a policy whose major impacts are likely to be reductions in employment and economic activity here at home, and increased instability and lawlessness along our borders.
Bush Institute's Laura Collins Talks Immigration on Good Morning Texas
Last week, Deputy Director of Economic Growth at the George. W. Bush Institute Laura Collins spoke with Good Morning Texas about immigration myths. During the interview, Collins had the opportunity to set the record straight and address common misconceptions about legal immigrants living in America today. The segment was inspired from facts released earlier this fall by the Bush Institute in the third edition of America's Advantage: A Handbook on Immigration and Economic Growth. Watch the full Good Morning Texas interview here.