The National Journal has no problem with mediocrity.

The OECD results are in, and teenagers in the United States are (drum roll, please) absolutely average.

Survey results released last week from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, found that 15-year-old students in the U.S. rank 14th in reading and 17th in science compared to other OECD countries. They fall far behind in math, where they rank 25th.


At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, what’s so awful about being average? In every graduating class, there can be only one valedictorian.

Checker Finn’s head explodes,

Yikes. Why shouldn?t National Journal settle for being average, too, maybe like People, Road & Track, or Teen Star Hairstyles? Why shouldn?t American athletes settle for the middle of the pack in the summer and winter Olympics? Who really cares about gold medals? Oscars? Nobel Prizes? Three Michelin stars?

Yet you want us seriously to ponder the possibility that average is fine for the United States when it comes to education?

I would add that average is unacceptable for a nation that spends more on elementary and secondary education than any other (with the exception of Luxembourg).