The papers all dutifully reported that the US students ranked last in science literacy and only in the middle of the 24 nations in math literacy. Gov. Christie and lots of other politicians decried our education performance. It’s fashionable to  find we have a crisis. And their answers are a mix of charter schools, more testing and increased accountability. If academic performance were the only issue, these might be part of solutions.

But look a little deeper in the UNICEF report to find that the US ranks low in other measures: living space, health problems and healthy eating, just to name a few.  These measures reflect not only our poorest children, but all our children. They are barriers to student achievement. These barriers cannot be overcome with changes in school governance, testing and more regulation.

Lowering the barriers to student achievement requires addressing the barriers to decent housing, food, jobs and health care. It means looking for ways to reduce inequities, not exacerbate them.

For a quick snapshot of the report, see Charles M. Blow’s  op ed in Saturday’s NY Times. For the full report, go here.

We can improve our children’s outcomes.  Do we want to?