The costs of Shanghai's education success story

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Monday, December 9, 2013

In 2009, Shanghai participated for the first time in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the tri-annual survey of the world's school systems.

And when Shanghai's teenagers proved their math, science, and reading were much better than their peers in the United States, Germany, and Japan, the world was shocked and awed.

Here, much more so than the 2008 Beijing Olympics or Shanghai's skyscrapers or China's double-digit growth, was proof positive that the future belonged to China.

The latest PISA results released this week show that Shanghai schools are still number one, but, as I argued after Shanghai's first placing in 2009, the triumph comes at too great a cost.

The dog-eat-dog and winner-take-all mentality of China's school system isn't just making children unhappy and unhealthy -- it's also causing cheating and bribery, leading to an unfair and unequal school system.

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