COLLEGE
11/20/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Is America's Education System Really In Crisis?

A hundred years ago, eight and a half per cent of American seventeen-year-olds had a high-school degree, and two per cent of twenty-three-year-olds had a college degree. Now, on any given weekday morning, you will find something like fifty million Americans, about a sixth of the population, sitting under the roof of a public-school building, and twenty million more are students or on the faculty or the staff of an institution of higher learning.

Enrollment in charter schools is growing rapidly, but so is enrollment in old-fashioned public schools, and enrollments are rising at all levels. Those who complete a higher education still do better economically. Measures of how much American students are learning--compared to the past, and compared to students in other countries--are holding steady, for the most part, even as more people are going to school.

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