Had our attempted conquest of Canada in the War of 1812 succeeded, the U.S. education system might very well rank much higher than it does today--and Alberta would be the reason why. Were Alberta its own country, it would rank among the top four nations worldwide in math, reading, and science achievement, according to the OECD's 2003 PISA study. How does this vast and wild expanse of alpine forest and prairie do it? Simple: a system of standards and accountability that should be the envy of the NCLB faithful, complete with a solid core curriculum; clear achievement goals; and high-quality, province-wide exams, which have all made Alberta the brightest jewel in the Queen's crown. Alberta's success also stems, in large part, from the bold innovations of its capital city. Edmonton's extensive system of school choice has proved extremely successful, especially because its schools are anchored by provincial standards and tests. It was also the first district to implement weighted student funding, a reform which helped turn around its struggling schools in the late 1970s. We Americans could learn a thing or two about education by listening to our northern neighbors--if we can get past their funny accents.

"Clever red-necks," The Economist, September 21, 2006

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