>One obvious point is that many of the brightest and best-educated
>people in the world move to America because that's where they have
>the best prospects for advancement. I saw a documentary a while
>ago which claimed that some huge percentage of the top scientists
>in America were born and raised in Europe, and emigrated there
>afterwards; I think it was something like 30% British, but don't
>remember the exact figures. I can't back this up with any other
>cites, but it makes sense to me.
Actually a single village in Hungary is the title holder for most/best intellects exported to America. (see Richard Rhodes books on the atomic/hydrogen bombs.)
>A country deson't need a great education system when the best
>people from all over the world choose to live there.
<sigh> more America bashing. Nearly half of the people to ever win a Nobel Prize call a single American University (the University of Chicago ) home. We also produce our own, Richard Feynman is equivalent to any you could name.
Grade school education in the U.S. is a holdover of the industrial era, designed to produce a product to feed the same. At the University level it is a completely different game, the education system is world class and a multi-billion dollar industry for the U.S.
Grade schools are also highly political creatures. Here in Chicago, they had descended as low as they could go. The current mayor changed the system, appointed a CEO of the school system and let him do his job. The results are incredible, even the hate-Chicago downstate legislators give the man (Paul Vallas) an A+ rating. They have a ways to go, but they are on their way. Housing is the city is becoming a hot commodity again, the improving schools cited as a major part of the reason.
Education is a very valuable commodity in a global economy, smart parents will do everything necessary to see their offspring get the best, (preferably better than the rest) after all, there can only be so many CEO's.
For an interesting read, (although a bit dated) see "Buckminster Fuller on education."
Current reading: "Six Easy Pieces" Richard P Feynman