Class Dunce Drops Out of Math and Science Competition
If you were always the last one to be picked when they were choosing up teams, you probably didn’t go out for varsity sports in school. And iff yu diddint spel wurds verry gud, you probably didn’t take part in the spelling bee.
Similarly, if you're a country who's squandered so many trillions of dollars on wars and invasions that your education system is a disaster — you don’t want to take part in an international science and math competition.
It isn't actually a competition. It’s an international study called TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) Advanced 2008. The purpose is to measure how American high school seniors are doing in algebra, geometry, calculus and physics compared to their counterparts in other countries.
But rightly or wrongly, nobody wants to be shown up and embarrassed by going too far out of their league. If you weigh 95 pounds and can't curl your car keys, you probably don’t want to enroll in a gym frequented by 300-pound power lifters. If you think two plus two equals seven, you're not ready for advanced calculus.
The last time the United States took part in a similar survey was 1995. We came out ahead of just two countries, Cyprus and South Africa. Hey, at least we weren’t at the bottom. As Southerners like to say, “Thank God for Mississippi.”
The Commissioner of the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics is claiming that the decision to withdraw was based on finances and their “overextended staff.” About 4,000 American high school seniors would have taken part in this study, at a cost of between $3 million and $10 million.
Even if the cost is the real reason, an advocate for math and science education said: “It’s pennywise and pound foolish. It is crucial that we know what our most talented students can do and how we are serving them. I can’t think of anything more important than having data on how you are training your future mathematicians and scientists.”