Pat Buchanan

The scores are in from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment, which, every three years, tests 15-year-olds from the world's most advanced countries.

For the United States, the report card is dismal. The U.S. ranking has fallen to 17th in reading, 21st in science, and 26th in math.

Florida, one of America's diverse mega-states, competed separately in the PISA exam, and scored below the U.S. average.

In the academic Olympics, the American superpower is a mediocrity.

Ranked one through seven in test scores in reading, science and math were Shanghai-China, Singapore, Hong Kong-China, Taiwan, South Korea, Macau-China, Japan. Also well ahead of the United States is Vietnam.

By and large, Western Europe has moved out in front of us and our close competitors are the Slovak Republic and Russian Federation.

Fifteen-year-olds in two ex-Soviet republics, Estonia and Latvia, also posted grades in math and science superior to those of America's young.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls the PISA test scores a "brutal truth" that "must serve as a wake-up call" for the country.

Excuse me, but how many wake-up calls do we need?

In October 1957, we got our first when the brutalitarian and backward superpower built by Josef Stalin beat America into space.

Two months later, our answer to Sputnik, a three-pound satellite, was to be launched by a Vanguard rocket from Cape Canaveral, to get us back in the race. It got four feet off the ground, when the rocket exploded.

Egg all over our face, we were rescued from national humiliation by the Redstone Arsenal rocket crew of Wernher von Braun who built the V-2s that had rained down on London. Von Braun put an 80-pound Explorer into orbit, and we were back in the game.

While the first manned space flight was made by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, America, under Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, took command and put an American on the moon in July 1969.

Meanwhile, the country was on fire over the issue of education.

In LBJ's Great Society legislation in 1965 came the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which poured enormous amounts into our pubic schools.

In 1983, came "A Nation at Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform," the report of President Ronald Reagan's National Commission on Excellence in Education. Conclusion: America's schools, even then, thirty years ago, were failing the nation.

Under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, we got another surge in spending with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.


Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
 
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