If our kids learned as much in school as Canadian kids do, we'd increase our gross domestic product by about $50 trillion over the next 80 years, estimates Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institution.
The GDP gain would be doubled if our kids learned as much as Finnish kids do, he said. The average yearly gain would be enough to wipe out our $1.2 trillion federal budget deficit.
"The achievement gap between the U.S. and the world's top-performing countries can be said to be causing the equivalent of a permanent recession," Mr. Hanushek wrote for Education Next.
Not so many years ago, our schools were the best in the world. But in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's rankings in 2010, the United States was 17th in reading, 22nd in science, 29th in math. In every other OECD country, 25- to 34-year-olds are better educated than 55- to 64 year-olds. But not in the United States. Today we lead the world only in how much we spend per pupil.