01/17/2014 05:01 pm ET Updated Mar 19, 2014

Average Is Over

The New York Times columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, recently wrote about three recent advances in technology -- self driving cars, robotic factories and artificial intelligence. The (present and near future) result of these incredible advances has been (will be) the replacement of human labor with "machines."

He then added another recent development -- the internationalization of the labor market, meaning that Americans are now competing for jobs, manufacturing as well as software development, with people throughout the world.

This column interested me to the point that I sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times entitled "Asking More of Students," which the newspaper printed on January 16, 2014:

The most import three words in Thomas L Friedman's column were "average is over." These words reflect the state of global competition for jobs as well as the new age of smart technologies that permit only the best educated to have well-paying jobs.

The message for American education can't be more clear: Either we step up to the plate, or much of our population will lead unproductive lives with terribly paying jobs. Business and national government leaders understand this, and so do many educators. But too many parents refuse to accept that their children must demand more of themselves.

In my years as an educator, I met some parents who demand too much. But many more protest loudly when their children score too low on tests or report cards, often complaining about the unfairness of the grade, not a child's lack of preparation.

What I find mystifying is that so many parents are in a state of denial regarding their children's probable economic futures, believing that their children will lead comfortable lives based upon having sufficiently well-paying jobs.

Are these parents not reading the same articles as those read and written by Friedman, governmental officials, business leaders, economists and some educators, who continually warn that too many American children are not graduating from high school, are not attending college, or are all too willing to be academically unchallenged, prizing sports above math and science?

Yes, our schools are probably over testing our youngest children, but why do our older children perform with such mediocrity compared to others around the world? And, it's not only the poorest children, but also those in the top income brackets (those interested may wish to read "Why the U.S. Results on PISA Matter" by Eric A. Hanushek from the January 8, 2014 issue of Education Week).