The US education system is strangely top heavy. US graduate and research education is probably the best in the world. Billions are spent, no stone is left unturned in maintaining the highest standards of academia in the graduate institutions in this country.
However, this country sadly lacks in imparting basic, primary education to its young people. The coursework undertaken in our high schools is almost puerile compared to what is offered in the better schools of India, China and other developing countries. People do acquire general literacy here, more than in any developing country, but the level of school education is substandard. Mathematics and the sciences are sadly neglected; which is why American students are often no competition for immigrant or foreign students, especially in the sciences.
Worse still, our schools and high schools are deluged with drugs and premature sex. There are few schools where the average student goes to study. A high school is more a fun place to get high, flirt with boys or girls, as the case may be, and generally do everything that a pampered generation is good at doing.
As a result of this, an unnervingly low percentage of American students actually go on to graduate school. Even those that go on to study graduate science find themselves in stiff competition with foreign students. They find, much to their surprise, that people from developing worlds seem much better at understanding math and science, even when some of them can hardly speak English and lack the young American’s fine social skills. These excellent social skills come in handy in bars and other similar establishments, but have little use in a research laboratory.
We are a generation of pioneers; aggressively living on the frontiers is in our blood. But we also need science and math education for our younger generations.