http://external.ak.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=AQD9e1abVwNYbHY4&w=32&h=32&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcdn.static-economist.com%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fthe-economist-logo.gif&cropBy Amanda Ripley. BAMA Companies has been making pies and biscuits in Oklahoma since the 1920s. But the company is struggling to find Okies with the skills to fill even its most basic factory jobs. Such posts require workers to think critically, yet graduates of local schools are often unable to read or do simple maths. This is why the company recently decided to open a new factory in Poland—its first in Europe. “We hear that educated people are plentiful,” explains Paula Marshall, Bama’s boss.
Poland has made some dramatic gains in education in the past decade. Before 2000 only half of the country’s rural adults would finish primary school. Yet international rankings now put the country’s students well ahead of America’s in science and maths (the strongest predictor of future earnings), even as the country spends far less per pupil. What is Poland doing right? And what is America doing wrong? Amanda Ripley, an American journalist, seeks to answer such questions in “The Smartest Kids in the World”, her fine new book about the schools that are working around the globe. Read more...