Archives for category: Jobs

Thomas Picketty, the French economist whose book “Capitalism in the 21st Century” was a huge bestseller last year, told MSNBC’s Krystal Ball that Republicans–most especially Jeb Bush–were decidedly on the wrong track in responding to inequality.


In a post on, Picketty told the interviewer that:


“there’s a lot of hypocrisy” in the rhetoric of conservatives who condemn inequality while failing to support policies like an increased minimum wage and ramped-up infrastructure spending.


“You’re saying let’s tax the top and invest that money into education for all. [Jeb Bush] is a proponent of school choice, of giving schools vouchers so they can attend public school or private school, whatever they want. Is this a good solution in terms of dealing with what he calls the opportunity gap?” Ball asks Piketty.


“From what I can see, he doesn’t want to invest more resources into education. He just wants more competition… there’s limited evidence that this is working. And I think most of all what we need is to put more public resources in the education system. Again, if you look at the kind of school, high school, community college that middle social groups in America have access to, this has nothing to do with the very top schools and universities that some other groups have access to,” Piketty replies.


“[I]f we want to have more growth in the future and more equitable growth in the future, we need to put more resources in the education available to the bottom 50% or 80% of America. So it’s not enough just say it, as Jeb Bush seems to be saying, but you need to act on it, and for this you need to invest resources,” he says.


Asked about claims by Bush and other conservatives that a so-called “skills gap” is responsible for the growth in inequality, Piketty dings that narrative as simplistic.


“The minimum wage today is lower than it was 50 years ago, unions are very weak, so you need to increase the minimum wage in this country today. The views that $7 and hour is the most you can pay low-skilled worker in America today… I think is just wrong — it was more 50 years ago and there was no more unemployment 50 years ago than there is today. So I think we could increase the minimum wage,” Piketty says, adding that the U.S. should also invest in “high-productivity jobs that produce more than the minimum wage.”


Education is important, Piketty acknowledges, but education alone is not enough to ameliorate inequality.


“You need wage policy and you need education policy,” he says. “And in order to have adequate education policy, you also need a proper tax policy so that you have the proper public resources to invest in these public services. Also you need infrastructure. Many of the public infrastructure in this country are not at the level of what the very developed should have. You cannot say, like many of the Republicans are saying, we can keep cutting tax on these top income groups who have already benefitted a lot from growth and globalization over the past 30 years.”

While policymakers tell the public that the Common Core standards will prepare all students for “college and careers,” while journalists like David Brooks assert that education will reduce poverty and inequality, economists predict that 47% of jobs will disappear in the U.S. due to robots and other new technology. Not all jobs will disappear: as one of the papers below says, there will still be a need for maids to make beds in hotels.

“At The WorldPost’s Future of Work Conference, a partnership of The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute taking place in London this week, a similar anxiety has begun to emerge — if not with workers, then with the economists who study them.

“According to our research, 47 percent of jobs in the U.S. are at risk from technology over the next 20 years,” Michael Osborne, a co-director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, told me. The group’s research combined U.S. Bureau of Statistics data with a complex machine-learning algorithm of its own to draw its conclusions….”

“There are some recent trends experts are sharing which show how this new world might look like, when the small percentage of individuals or corporations that own machines (the means of production) are the only ones able to make money, and as the rest of us (the middle class) lose our jobs for the simple fact that #RobotsDoItBetter.

“Take the most-talked-about slide of the day (seen below), courtesy of Anthony McAfee, associate director of the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The line that has been going up since about 2002 represents total gross domestic product in the U.S. The line that is going down represents wages paid as a percentage of that GDP…”

“Open the link to see the graph. It shows a large increase in productivity coupled with a declining share of income going to wages.

Here is more about the conference in London:

Weekend Roundup: Preparing to Be Disrupted

By: Nathan Gardels, Editor-in-chief

This week, The WorldPost conference on “The Future of Work” took place at Lancaster House in London. Discussion around the theme “prepare to be disrupted” ranged from how the emergent sharing economy, along with 3D desktop manufacturing, would take work back into the home to worries that automation could eliminate as much as 47 percent of current jobs in the United States.

Participants included Google’s Eric Schmidt, LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman, economists Laura Tyson, Nouriel Roubini and Mohamed El-Erian, Steve Jobs’ biographer Walter Isaacson, Japanese robot creator Tomotaka Takahashi and Arianna Huffington among others. Jordan’s Queen Rania spoke about how social media is fostering small business startups in the Arab world and offering a different narrative than that of the fanatics. She also called for dropping the “I” from ISIS since “there’s nothing Islamic about them.”

In The WorldPost, Ian Goldin of the Oxford Martin School writes that technological advance can lead to greater inequality or inclusive prosperity depending on how we govern ourselves. In an interview, futurist Jeremy Rifkin outlines the zero-marginal cost economy he sees coming. XPrize founder Peter Diamandis discusses his new book “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” and how exponential technologies such as 3D manufacturing and synthetic biology are transforming all of our lives for the better. This week’s series from Singularity University looks at Germany’s advanced robotic metal sculpting machines. WorldPost Associate Editor Peter Mellgard reports that, “artificial intelligence is breaking out of the box,” according to a panel of experts who recently gathered in New York at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Amy Rosen writes that the skill most needed in the future is an entrepreneurial mindset to navigate the ever-changing innovation economy. Virgin Unite’s Jean Oelwang writes that businesses of the future are looking beyond the bottom line and are becoming people and purpose oriented. Reflecting from Tokyo on a recent visit by Thomas Piketty, Yuriko Koike explains “why Japan does not have America’s super-rich problem.”

Speaking at the London conference, MIT’s Andrew McAfee argues that digital technology is “the best economic news in human history” but says that it poses many challenges to job creation in the future. David Gergen, the long-time presidential adviser now at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, proposes that the best way to adapt to tech disruption is “from the bottom up” instead of waiting for government policy. Other topics reported on from the conference included: how jobs are at risk because of advancing technologies, why women are winners when it comes to successful petitions, how the myths around meditation and business have been busted and why, according to Martha Lane Fox, co-founder of, none of her peers in the House of Lords understands the Internet.

As the National People’s Congress got underway in China this week, legal scholar He Jiahong writes from Beijing that establishing the rule of law in China must challenge “guanxi,” or personal connections, in business and politics. WorldPost China Correspondent Matt Sheehan gives us an inside look at dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s exhibit on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. He also writes about an anti-pollution documentary that went viral in China.

Writing from Moscow, Georgy Bovt says Russia is headed down a “dark path” after the murder of Boris Nemtsov. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy says Nemtsov’s example will live long after his murder at the doorstep of the Kremlin. Writing from Athens, Kyriakos Mitskotakis looks at how European realities have deeply constrained the radical plans of the new Greek government.

In this week’s “Forgotten Fact,” The WorldPost looks at Russia’s investigation of opposition leaders and why it does not bode well for the Nemtsov case.

Mia Bloom discusses “how ISIS is using marriage as a trap” to lure young women from the West and elsewhere to join with its fighters in Syria and Iraq. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reports from Istanbul this week on the merciless humor of Middle East comics directed at ISIS. She also writes about NFL stars who have traveled to Turkey to teach women football. Writing from Berlin following Bibi’s visit to Washington, German parliamentarian Philipp Missfelderargues that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is right about Iran and that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

Finally, in light of the death of Turkey’s famed novelist Yasar Kemal, an ethnic Kurd, Behlül Özkan writes that, “in this time of great darkness in the Middle East, the Kurdish movement has reason to be hopeful about the future.”


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is the National Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s editorial coverage. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s Senior World Editor. Charlotte Alfred and Nick Robins-Early are Associate World Editors.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun).

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy) and Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review). Katherine Keating (One-On-One), Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are contributing editors.

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo,Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

We not only deliver breaking news from the best sources with original reportage on the ground and user-generated content; we bring the best minds and most authoritative as well as fresh and new voices together to make sense of events from a global perspective looking around, not a national perspective looking out.

Berggruen Institute | 100 Wilshire Boulevard | Santa Monica | CA | 90401

Peter Greene here reviews David Brooks’ latest effort to advise the nation about education issues. Brooks argues that it would be a mistake to try to reduce poverty by redistributionist policies (I assume he means such policies as higher taxes on billionaires or direct benefits to those who are poor or government programs for job creation); instead, we should count on education to reduce inequality and poverty.


In earlier columns, he concluded that Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone charters were “miracle schools” that had closed the achievement gap between white and black students (however, the miracle has not been sustained, even though Canada kicked out the entire entering class whose scores were low, and his schools spend substantially more than public schools with which they are compared); and Brooks endorsed the idea that teachers would produce higher test scores through a trick called “loss aversion,” where they are given a bonus at the beginning of the year, but the bonus is taken away if the scores don’t go up. In 2011, after he heard me speak in Aspen, Colorado, he wrote a column criticizing me for questioning high-stakes testing and charter schools, and of course, he complained that I said that poverty is a leading cause of low test scores. He seems to believe that testing and charters are the answer to poverty, even though after some 13 years of high-stakes testing and 25 years of charters, there seems to be more child poverty, not less.


In today’s column, Brooks claims that the way to prosperity is not to reduce poverty by, for example, creating jobs for people who want to work or raising taxes on the super-rich (that would be redistributionist, which is a very bad thing in his eyes), but by making sure that everyone goes to college. If everyone goes to college, then everyone will get good jobs, and no one will be poor. But where will all those new jobs come from? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 20 occupations that will supply the most jobs between now and 2022 are mostly low-paying. Except for registered nurses and managers, 18 of the 20 occupations are not high-wage occupations. Do we need to improve our schools? Yes, of course. Will that be enough to reduce poverty? No.


Greene writes:


Mostly Brooks wants to argue for education as the miracle engine of economic justice. And to make his argument, he trots out the work of Raj Chetty, a piece of research that proves conclusively that even researchers at Harvard can become confused about the difference between correlation and causation. (Chetty, for those of you unfamiliar with the “research,” asserts that a good teacher will result in greater lifetime earnings for students. What he actually proves is that people who tend to do well on standardized tests tend to grow up to be wealthier, an unexciting demonstration of correlation best explained by things we already know– people who score well on standardized tests tend to be from a higher-income background, and people who grow up to be high-income tend to come from a high-income background.)


Brooks also cites magical researcher David Autor of MIT, who believes that if everyone graduated from college with a degree, everyone would make more money because, reasons. Because if everyone had a college degree, flipping burgers would pay more? Because if everyone had a college degree, corporations would suddenly want to hire more people? The continued belief in the astonishing notion that a more educated workforce causes higher-paying jobs to appear from somewhere is big news to a huge number of twenty-somethings who are busy trying to scrape together a living in areas other than the ones they prepared for these days.


Brooks isn’t done spouting nonsense:


[Brooks writes:] “Focusing on human capital is not whistling past the graveyard…No redistributionist measure will have the same effect as good early-childhood education and better community colleges, or increasing the share of men capable of joining the labor force.”


Because the vast number of high-paying jobs currently going unfilled is….. what?


Brooks says that redistributionists don’t get it, that they believe that modern capitalism is fundamentally broken, but that their view is biased by short-term effects of the recession. I have two responses for that pair of thoughtbubbbles.


First, it’s not clear whether capitalism is broken or not because we are currently tangled up in some sort of twisted fun-house mirror version of faux capitalism where the free market has been obliterated by a controlled money-sucking machine run by the government on behalf of the oligarchs. I’m actually a fan of capitalism, but what we currently have in this country is not capitalism at all.


Second, your argument about the “temporary evidence” of the recession is invalid because the recession was (and is) not the result of some mysterious serious of natural events. The economy went in the tank because the CEOs and Wall Street put it there. The economy broke because the “capitalists” broke it, and consequently the recession itself is Exhibit A in the case against modern faux capitalism and the greedheads who run it.


Throwing all this back at a magical belief in education is simply another way to blame poor people for being poor. So sorry you need food stamps and health care, but if you’d had the guts and character to go to college and get a degree, you wouldn’t be in such a mess. Your poverty is just the direct result of your lack of character and quality. Well, that and your terrible teachers. But it certainly has nothing to do with how the country is being run. It’s all on you, lousy poor person. And also your teachers.

The Economic Policy Institute is sometimes referred to in the press as a “left-leaning organization,” which means that their research may be sound (it is) but their sympathies are on the side of equality and fairness for all people. I have often turned to their website for nonpartisan data, always carefully sourced, about economic trends.


In this post, EPI documents growing income inequality in the United States. The graphs show the enormous income growth of the top 1% since 1979, as compared to the income growth of the bottom 99%. In the period since the Great Recession of 2008, the top 1% have seen significant income growth, while the bottom 99% have seen stagnant income.


The average income of the top 1% is 30 times the average income for the other 99%.


Income inequality is near its historic high, which occurred right before the Great Depression.


The period when the gap narrowed most was in the 1960s and 1970s. Since 1980, inequality has increased significantly.

Did you know that big testing corporations hire low-wage temps to score students’ written answers to their tests? The scorers need to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject but no teaching eexperience is necessary. On their snap judgment hang the test scores that will determine the future of students and the jobs of their teachers and the fate of their schools.


I first learned about this shocking arrangement when I read Todd Farley’ “Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry,” which is the most important insider exposé of the industry that sorts, ranks, and labels our nation’s children. And if you want to read another stunning insight into the industry, read this brilliant article by Dan DiMaggio in 2010.


The beat goes on.


Just a few days ago, someone tweeted this ad he found on Craig’sList in Indianapolis:


“Test Evaluators Needed (to score K-12 standardized tests) (Indianapolis, IN)


“Compensation: $11.05/hr contract job


“If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we need your help to evaluate student assessment tests. Come apply!


“For more information and to schedule an appointment visit our website or call us at 1-877-535-5981


“Please be prepared to spend two hours going to through the application / orientation process. Please bring two forms of identification to complete and I-9 and bring proof of your degree.


“These are project based positions. Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm


“Position Requirements:


-Must hold a completed Bachelor’s degree or higher


-Ability to sit and at a computer station for full work day


-Basic computer knowledge


-Knowledge of standard writing conventions and mechanics


-Availability to work Monday through Friday for the entire duration of a project


-Demonstrate flexibility while working on various projects”


Nothing new. Just remember. These crucial tests–make or break for students and teachers–are being scored by hourly temps.

An economist recently predicted trillions of dollars of increased productivity if schools raised test scores and thus eliminated poverty.

This teacher has a different view, grounded in reality, not speculation.

“As a teacher in a high poverty urban school, I would like to weigh in here. My school is not set up to eliminate poverty. That argument is rubbish. Would any of these economists like to put a price on the psychological toll of poverty? My kids are worried about getting shot. It is a common occurrence in the neighborhood. They eat the school breakfast totally lacking in nutrition as if it were mana from heaven. Some wear the same clothes day after day. The vast majority are not focused on their studies due to shouldering the unrelenting burdens of poverty.”

A story in the New York Times reports on a study released by a Washington think tank. The study is the work of economists, who calculate that closing the achievement gap and raising up everyone’s test scores, would have a dramatic effect on the economy.


If Americans were able to match the scores reached in Canada, which ranks seventh on the O.E.C.D. scale, the United States’ gross domestic product would rise by an additional 6.7 percent, a cumulative increase of $10 trillion (after taking inflation into account) by the year 2050, the report estimated.


Robert G. Lynch, an economist who wrote the Washington Center report, explained why he took the trouble to make these what-if calculations.


“One of the main goals was to see how we could promote more widely shared and faster economic growth,” he said. In the three decades that followed the end of World War II, almost all Americans, no matter where they fell on the earnings scale, enjoyed at least a doubling of their real incomes.


But that balanced growth has evaporated. While those at the top have continued to experience robust income increases, everyone else’s income has either stalled or dropped. The average income of the bottom 20 percent of households sank by more than 8 percent from 1973 to 2013, while the inflation-adjusted incomes of the top 20 percent grew by about 60 percent, according to the report. The top 5 percent enjoyed an 80 percent jump.


One point of this exercise, Mr. Lynch explained, is to show that the added cost of improving educational achievement at the bottom would be more than made up for by the rise in economic output and tax revenue….


The report includes the types of changes, which include expanding early childhood education, reducing exposure to lead paint and starting school later so teenagers can get more sleep, that the center views as necessary to raise achievement scores, though it does not include specific costs in its calculations.


The report also notes how widely achievement scores vary within the United States, not only from state to state but county to county. Montgomery County, a generally affluent suburban area in Maryland just outside of Washington, for example, was able to reduce the gap and increase scores after instituting all-day kindergarten programs, reducing class size, investing in teacher development and reducing housing-based segregation in its schools.


All of these are good ideas, all of them should be speedily implemented. But I don’t understand how these changes by themselves will generate more and better-paying jobs to create the economic growth that is predicted. None of these proposals addresses intergenerational poverty. Schools are very important, and we should do whatever we can to make sure that every child has equal educational opportunity. But schools alone cannot reduce the source of the achievement gap, which is poverty. Nearly a quarter of our children live in poverty, the highest proportion of any advanced nation; and 51% live in families that are low-income or poor. A strategy is needed to create good jobs, good housing, and a range of services to help families live decent lives and provide for their children. That’s what other nations do. Across Europe, for example, there is a sturdy safety net that includes both school-based improvements and socioeconomic strategies to help families and communities. Some of the comments following this article make the same point.



The National Superintendents Roundtable and the Horace Mann League released  a report called “School Reform in Context,” based on data about children, schools, and the social context of schooling in the U.S. and other nations. This study challenges the conventional claim that our education system is falling behind the rest of the world. Seen in context, our school system has performed admirably in creating the world’s most highly educated workforce, but faces ongoing challenges of high levels of child poverty, inequity, and violence in society.



New study finds U.S. has the world’s most educated workforce—but students face unparalleled levels of poverty, inequity and violence


Washington, DC. January 20– A new study released today challenges the practice of ranking nations by educational test scores and questions conventional wisdom that the U.S.educational system has fallen badly behind school systems abroad.


In their report, School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect, the Horace Mann League (HML) and the National Superintendents Roundtable examined six dimensions related to student performance—equity, social stress, support for families, support for schools, student outcomes, and system outcomes—in the G-7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Finland and China. They then examined 24 “indicators” within those dimensions.


Of the nine nations, the United States remains the wealthiest with the most highly educated workforce, based on the number of years of school completed, and the proportion of adults with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.


“Many policymakers and business leaders fret that America has fallen behind Europe and China, but our research does not bear that out,” said James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable.


Despite high educational levels, the United States also reflects high levels of economic inequity and social stress compared to the other nations. All are related to student performance. Measures included rates of childhood poverty, income inequality and violence. For example, in American public schools today, the rate of childhood poverty is five times greater than it is in Finland. Rates of violent death are 13 times greater than the average for the other nations, with children in some communities reporting they have witnessed shootings, knifings, and beatings as “ordinary, everyday events.”


The study is a unique analysis, which for the first time compares K-12 education internationally on an array of social and economic indicators, not just test scores. The goal was to look at the whole iceberg, not just the tip—and provide a clearer snapshot of each country’s performance, including its wealth, diversity, community safety, and support for families and schools.



Some key findings:


  •   Economic Equity: The United States and China demonstrate the greatest gaps between rich and poor. The U.S. also contends with remarkably high rates of income inequality and childhood poverty.
  •   Social Stress: The U.S.reported the highest rates of violent death and teen pregnancy, and came in second for death rates from drug abuse. The also one of the most diverse nations with many immigrant students, suggesting English may not be their first language.
  •   Support for Families: The U.S. performed in the lowest third on public spending for services that benefit children and families, including preschool.
  •   Support for Schools: Americans seem willing to invest in education: The U.S. leads the nine-nation group in spending per student, but the national estimates may not be truly comparable. U.S. teachers spend about 40 percent more time in the classroom than their peers in the comparison countries.
  •   Student Outcomes: Performance in American elementary schools is promising, while middle school performance can be improved. U.S. students excel in 4th grade reading and high school graduation rates, but perform less well in reading at age 15. All nations demonstrate an achievement gap based on students’ family income and socio-economic status.
  •   System Outcomes: The U.S. leads these nations in educational levels of its adult workforce. Measures included years of schooling completed and the proportion of adults with high-school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. American students also make up 25 percent of the world’s top students in science at age 15, followed by Japan at 13 percent.
  • “Too often, we narrow our focus to a few things that can be easily tested. To avoid that scoreboard mentality, we need to look at many measures important to shaping our future citizens. Treating education as a horse race doesn’t work,” said HML President Gary Marx.
  • A call for more nuanced assessments
  • American policymakers from both political parties have a history of relying on large, international assessments to judge United States’ performance in education. In 2013, the press reported that American students were falling behind when compared to 61 other countries and a few cities including Shanghai. In that comparative assessment—called the Program for International Student Assessment—PISA controversially reported superior scores for Shanghai.
  • “We don’t oppose using international assessments as one measure of performance. But as educators and policymakers, we need to compare ourselves with similar nations and on a broader set of indicators that put school performance in context—not just a single number in an international ranking,” said Harvey.
  • “Our study suggests the U.S. has the most educated workforce, yet students confront shockingly high rates of poverty and violence. Research shows that those larger issues, outside the classroom, are serious threats to student learning,” noted HML Executive Director Jack McKay.
  • The report, a summary and a video are available at: and

About the sponsors

The Horace Mann League ( is an association of educators


committed to the


principles of public education. Its members believe the U.S. public school system is an


indispensable agency for strengthening our democracy and a vital, dynamic influence in


American life.


The National Superintendents Roundtable ( is a learning community of school superintendents who learn, discuss and meet regularly with worldwide experts,

 sharing best practices and leading for the future.

National Superintendents Roundtable Contact: Rhenda Meiser
(206) 465-9532


Horace Mann League Contact: Gary Marx, President
(703) 938-8725

Valerie Strauss has a column describing a puzzle: younger Americans, ages 18-34, are more educated than their parents’ generation, but making less money.


Your guess is as good as mine, but here is my guess. Inequality is growing; the middle class is less secure. The “reformers” want everyone to go to college, but they do nothing to address the shrinkage of jobs, especially jobs that pay what college graduates are led to expect. All their “reform” blather is a convenient way of diverting attention from growing wage inequality and growing wealth inequality.


Strauss writes:


Young adults in the United States today — those Americans from 18 to 34 years old — are on average earning less than their counterparts 35 years ago, but more have a college degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

This piece on the bureau’s blog says that earnings among young adults range from state to state across the country, with some states seeing an increase. In Massachusetts, for example, young adults earn on average $6,500 more annually, adjusted for inflation; in Virginia, they earn $4,100 more. But states where there have been big declines are “Michigan, Wyoming and Alaska where young adults earn at least $9,000 less than they did 30 years ago,” the blog post says.

What does this all say about America today and the earning prospects for young people? The post says:

Young adults’ experiences may reflect a rise in inequality. Since the 1980s, income inequality for households and families has gone up at the same time as the country as a whole has become more educated. The picture that emerges from these statistics reveals a generation of young adults who may be, at once, both better and worse off than their parents.

After reading in the New York Times about how many gazillions the Walton family has given to create charter schools (and vouchers) so that poor children can escape from failing public schools, EduShyster was deeply moved by their charitable impulses. And then she thought about their parents, the ones who work for Walmart.

She writes:

“Tough love

“I will stop briefly for a moment, reader, to allow you to reach for a fresh hanky (or to freshen your drink), such is the heart-warming nature of this particular tale. Alas, here is where our story takes a detour into darker, less feel-good fare. You see, if the Walheart throbs with love for low-income kids, it beats somewhat less enthusiastically for their low-income parents, especially those who are low-income by virtue of working at Walmart. Take Washington, DC, for example, where nearly every aspect of the city’s choice-infused school system comes stamped with a *W.* One choice that’s not on offer in the District: living wage jobs at big-box stores including Walmart. Or consider Walmart’s response after workers at stores across the country walked off the job to protest crap wages and benefits and a work culture that might best be described as tough love. (Hint: Walmart didn’t hug the workers.)

“The Tell Tale Heart (and a quick Common Core math problem)

“That sound you hear in the background, reader, is an organ—albeit not one of the ventricular variety. I’m talking old school, Vincent Price-style organ music of the kind that plays just before some dark and dirty business is carried out. In other words, this is where we pause to contemplate a heart-wrenching paradox: how is it possible that the great big lovin’ Walheart pounds for the sake of preparing low-income kids for college and career readiness in the future even as Walmart itself presides over a transformation of the workplace into one great big, underpaid, precarious, rights-free hell? Common Core math problem: Drawing on the informational text above, construct a Venn diagram that best demonstrates the overlap between the 1.4 million, mostly low-wage Walmart employees and the 2 million students who are being made college and career ready with the aid of Walmart profits. Don’t forget to provide a written explanation of how you reached your conclusion.”

The Waltons especially love the “no excuses” charters, and EduShyster knows why:

“Known for long days, long years, strict discipline and stripped down, test-prep academics focused almost exclusively on English and math, the schools so beloved by the Waltons specialize in a particular kind of acculturation that might best be described as learning how to work for the man. Students attending these schools receive training in such invaluable 21st century skills as showing up on time, making sure one’s uniform shirt is always tucked in and learning that you can only go to the bathroom when the boss says its OK and go home when s/he unlocks the doors.”

Great training, right? Just the work ethic needed to be a sales associate at Walmart.