Eric Hanushek of Stanford University's Hoover Institution talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about his new book, Endangering Prosperity (co-authored with Paul Peterson and Ludger Woessmann). Hanushek argues that America's educational system is mediocre relative to other school systems around the world and that the failure of the U.S. system to do a better job has a significant negative impact on the American standard of living. Hanushek points to improving teacher quality as one way to improve education.
The relative deficiencies of U.S. public schools are a serious concern to parents and policymakers. But they should be of concern to all Americans, as a globalizing world introduces new competition for talent, markets, capital, and opportunity. Endangering Prosperity compares the performance of American schools against that of other nations. The net result is a mixed but largely disappointing picture that clearly shows where improvement is most needed. The authors' objective is not to explain the deep causes of past failures but to document how dramatically the U.S. school system has failed its students and its citizens. It is a wake-up call for structural reform. To move forward to a different and better future requires that we understand just how serious a situation America faces today.
"America faces many pressures ranging from achieving long-run fiscal balance to maintaining our strong national security. As Hanushek, Peterson, and Woessmann persuasively show, these pressures could be dramatically lessened by improving our schools." —George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State
"Just when you thought we’d reached a consensus on the need to dramatically improve America’s schools, a chorus is emerging to suggest all is well. Endangering Prosperity contains all the facts and figures needed to put an end to such dangerous and misguided thinking.” —Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City schools
"If the United States is to continue to be the experiment in liberty and freedom for which those who founded our great country sacrificed their lives, we must find a way to fix our schools. If we continue on the path we are on, we endanger more than just our prosperity, as the authors of this powerful volume make clear." —Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida
"Endangering Prosperity makes a compelling case that K-12 public education in the United
States is lagging compared to its international counterparts—and that the issue extends across the socioeconomic spectrum. The economic costs are simply too great, the authors persuasively argue, to accept the timid incrementalism that too often passes for ‘reform.’" —Chris Cerf, Commissioner of Education, State of New Jersey
"Seen from abroad, it is clear that America’s schools could do better. Endangering Prosperity accurately describes the challenges facing U.S. schools, but also shows the rewards that could come from improvement." —Sir Michael Barber, former advisor to U. K. Prime Minister Tony Blair