Robert Reich, in the second of his three columns on GM, has this to say about American education:
In decades to come, nations with the highest percentages of their working populations able to do symbolic-analytic tasks will have the highest standard of living and be the most competitive internationally.
America’s biggest challenge is to educate more of our people sufficiently to excel at such tasks. We do remarkably well with the children from relatively affluent families. Our universities are the envy of the world. and no other nation surpasses us in providing intellectual and creative experience within entire regions specializing in one or another kind of symbolic analytic work (LA for music and film, Silicon Valley for software and the Internet, greater Boston for bio-med engineering, and so on).
But we’re in danger of losing ground because too many of our kids, especially those from lower-middle class and poor families, can’t get the foundational education they need. The consequence is a yawning gap in income and wealth which continues to widen. More and more of our working people finds themselves in the local service economy -- in hotels, hospitals, restaurant chains, and big-box retailers -- earning low wages with little or no benefits.
While he doesn't answer all of the puzzle, he has a few suggestions.