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Education in America, A Failed System

How does an educational system fail in a great country like America? What causes this? The educational system in early USA was great for the time. It was composed of mainly young female teachers. That worked through the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies. During this time families were held together by stronger bonds and often stay at home moms had a husband who came home at night.

Our dynamics have changed. With the fights for women’s rights and the charge forward of women working in the rest of the occupations of the world, more job openings were created for women. They were no longer limited to the role of women in education. This probably started occurring with the advent of Rosie the Riveter and women moving into a “man’s world” to help our country out during WWII.

While women’s wages have kept moving up in many professions, teaching has not been one of them. Teacher’s wages for men and women have remained relatively stagnant and have not kept up with other professions for either sex. Teachers in many other countries are more highly revered and their salaries are competitive with other professions.

Because of some of these dynamics, a person in teaching today really is there because they want to teach. It is time we value our teachers more. They are handling our most valuable possessions on a day to day basis and many teachers spend more time with our children than we as parents do.

According to the Guardian, in 2014, the U.S. spent an average of $16,268.00 to educate a student from primary through tertiary education compared to the global average of $10,759.00. When you consider wages in other countries compared to America, that is probably much too little spent. What do we get for this?

In Singapore, compared to America, the average student is 3.5 years ahead in math, 1.5 years ahead in reading, and 2.5 years ahead in mathematics. Children in countries as diverse as Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore consistently outrank American children on the basics of education.

The international standard for assessing educational success is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ‒ a global assessment of mathematics, reading and science skills conducted once every three years and on which the U.S. gets consistently trounced. PISA is not uncontroversial. Critics say such a broad measure fails to take into account the extent to which cultural, economic and geographic differences affect the results. Nevertheless, PISA suggests the U.S. has cause for concern.

People may say the reason America is in the bottom is because of a diverse population. However, in Canada, Ontario educates 40% of the students and 30% of the province’s population are immigrants. So, what does Ontario do better? Perhaps it is time for America to find out.

Or we could look at South Korea. When Japanese teachers left South Korea in 1945, they left a population of South Koreans which was largely illiterate. Now in their school system 69% of students 25 to 34 years old are educated beyond secondary and has the highest educational levels of all OECD countries.

America, we can do better. It is time for us to learn from other countries which are outperforming us.

God bless you all from the Maverick Doctor,

Rick R. Redalen, M.D.

Pick up a copy of my book “God’s Tiniest Angel and the Last Unicorn,” available on Amazon.

Dr. Rick is a retired American physician, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has done mission work around the country and around the world. He is now on a mission to improve healthcare in America. Visit or email him at

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