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Teaching Uncle Sam the A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s

Naveen Sunkavally

Yet another study has risen from the murky swamps of statistical analysis to condemn American education. This one calls itself the "Third International Mathematics and Science Study," and it has the audacity to claim that our best American high school students in math and science - those students in Advanced Placement classes - are less proficient than advanced students from all other countries participating, including less well-off nations such as Greece, Cyprus, and Latvia. It should be noted that the Asian countries, probably lonely and tired from being at the top of most educational studies, did not participate in this one.

Similar studies in the '60s, '70s, and '80s produced virtually similar results but were dismissed. The argument was that societal differences, such America's greater diversity compared to other nations, made such comparisons meaningless.

Apparently all those minorities in the United States, who receive the same education as the majority, are responsible for diluting statistics because of their inferior intelligence. And never mind that some of those minorities had to immigrate here first from other nations - nations that have traditionally done better than the United States in educational studies.

These less-than-enthralling results, which have been reproduced a number of times over the decades, came as a monumental shock to leading officials of the country. The news must have traveled up through the ranks and landed even on the President's desk, for shortly after the report was released, Bill Clinton said: "There is something wrong with the system and it is our generation's responsibility to fix it. We cannot blame the schoolchildren. There is no excuse for this."

Meanwhile, conservatives, disregarding the fact that the most educated nations have a centralized system of standards, decided to run around in circles praising the usual deities of regional accountability and family.

Frankly, I don't think we should worry much about this study or any other similar study. The United States has always prided itself on upholding values such as freedom and liberty, and, by God, it has every right not to educate the members of its country. No one really wants a good education. Do you want to a good education? I don't want a good education.

As the leader in this global economy, and as the single technological superpower, the United States doesn't really need to worry about its educational system - it can always import talent from other countries. America has always been the promised land, and people will continue to migrate here until the universe implodes upon itself. Indeed, we should applaud the efforts of countries such as Greece, Latvia, and Cyprus. They are producing human resources for our country to use.

There is certainly no denying that any attempt to reform the educational standards in this country is based squarely on nationalistic sentiment - the urge to make our country better than others. And what has nationalism brought people in the history of this world: war, death, poverty, blood, and destruction. In the crests and troughs of cyclical history, nationalism has only brought us empires, blood, and death.

Furthermore, the whole current world trend is away from nationalism. Trade barriers such as tariffs and quotas have been annihilated as countries have tuned their ears to the siren song of free trade. Communism, a major factor in inducing nationalistic fervor in this country a decade ago, is virtually dead as democracy has gradually become the standard form of government. People are migrating physically and through that "information super-highway" to and from more countries than was ever possible before. So why should we strive, out of some foolish impulse, to be better than other countries, when the whole world trend is toward the gradual extinction of countries.

The true solution to a deficient American education: buy Japanese! Buy German! Buy Indian! Buy Cypriot! While driving down the road your Ford may collapse like a child's cardboard wagon under your weight. And don't dare climb that American ladder or cross that American bridge - God knows what will happen. And when you find yourself drowning in the river after having fallen through that American bridge in your American car, don't dare take a hold of that American life-preserver someone has thrown you from the distance. It's better to drown knowing your fate for sure than cling to a flawed, inflated hope.