Critics have long lamented how America's lacking education system hurts young people. But a new Associated Press study says not to worry about the youth — because adults are the ones getting dumber.
In a study of 166,000 teens and adults in the industrialized world, Americans fared below the average in math, reading, and problem solving skills. We already knew that Americans kids were languishing behind the Japans, Finlands, and Australias of the world. This study is proof positive that students aren't getting smarter as they age, get out of school, and join the work force. That is, if they even can get a job.
"It's not just the kids who require more and more preparation to get access to the economy, it's more and more the adults don't have the skills to stay in it," said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
The Los Angeles Times dug deeper into the study and found more concerning evidence that the adults of today are even worse off than the same age group almost 20 years ago. In one of the study's literacy tests, "People in their thirties and forties in 2012 scored significantly lower than people in their same age group in 1994," the LA Times writes. Just last week, we noted that less than half of adults read a single book for pleasure last year, a number that is on the decline.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan is taking the study seriously, and proposed to find out ways to get adults to improve their scores. But there's one sure way for adults to get smarter; read some more literary fiction, which science recently found makes you a better, more empathetic person.
That might not improve your math or problem solving scores, but you'll at least be able to commiserate with others on the sorry status of American education.