America is in decline, so we believe. In Washington policymakers wring their hands in worry looking at statistics that show falling national test scores and decreasing student interest in the sciences. In 2007, the National Academies Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy released, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which indicated that the United States is not producing sufficient numbers of scientists and engineers (S&E) to meet our future national security needs.
Sometimes, I wonder if we underestimate the resilience of America.
On the final day of my daughter’s 7th grade class, the English teacher asked the students how they thought they did that year.
First to jump in was Ali, the son of upper class Pakistani World Bank officials. He launched into, my daughter recalls, a rant on how American schools are in decline and that although he received all As, in other countries, with better schools, these grades would only be C.
Miss Cornelia, my daughter, a direct descendant of Jonathan Edwards, Aaron Burr, and some Jewish fishermen, tells me she was appalled. She said, she turned to him and exclaimed coldly, “But Ali, what do you feel inside? How do you think you did?”
Master Ali who since kindergarten has sought Miss Cornelia’s attention even going to so far as to give her all his Halloween candy foolishly more than once, found himself dismissed, but again.