In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, former Secretary of State George Shultz and renowned education scholar Eric Hanushek declare,

In addressing our current fiscal and economic woes, too often we neglect a key ingredient of our nation’s economic future—the human capital produced by our K-12 school system. An improved education system would lead to a dramatically different future for the U.S., because educational outcomes strongly affect economic growth and the distribution of income.

Fair enough.  The claim that we often “neglect” schooling when we discuss economic growth strikes me as an exaggeration, but I will not hold that against them.  The authors continue,

Over the past half century, countries with higher math and science skills have grown faster than those with lower-skilled populations. In the chart nearby, we compare GDP-per-capita growth rates between 1960 and 2000 with achievement results on international math assessment tests. The countries include almost all of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries plus a number of developing countries. What stands out is that all the countries follow a nearly straight line that slopes upward—as scores rise, so does economic growth. Peru, South Africa and the Philippines are at the bottom; Singapore and Taiwan, the top.

So, what does this mean for North Carolina?  It just so happens that John Hood published a column (today!) that addresses these concerns.  Damn, he’s good.