Pure speculation or not, I find compelling Mike's lead editorial in this week's Gadfly, which argues that extra-curricular activities in U.S. K-12 education foster "creativity, leadership, and the other '21st Century skills' that employers crave."
But his closing line, light-hearted as it is, really disappoints, because it exemplifies the wrong-headed thinking that permeates ed policy and engenders so many ridiculous ideas for revamping K-12 to make us "more competitive." He says:
So the next time that foreigners come to investigate what accounts for America's economic success, don't show them the extra-curriculars. They're our secret weapons; we might want to keep it that way!
To all you K-12 ambassadors out there, please don't listen to Mike. If China dispatches a special envoy to come study our schools, show them everything we've got. Contrary to what Mike and many much more irrational fear-mongerers out there suggest, we want foreign economies to thrive, because trade is not a zero-sum game; improving circumstances in one country benefit us all.