One of the sad and dangerous signs of our times is how many people are enthralled by words, without bothering to look at the realities behind those words.
One of those words that many people seldom look behind is "education." But education can cover anything from courses on nuclear physics to courses on baton twirling.
Unfortunately, an increasing proportion of American education, whether in the schools or in the colleges and universities, is closer to the baton twirling end of the spectrum than toward the nuclear physics end. Even reputable colleges are increasingly teaching things that students should have learned in high school.
We don't have a backlog of serious students trying to take serious courses. If you look at the fields in which American students specialize in colleges and universities, those fields are heavily weighted toward the soft end of the spectrum.
When it comes to postgraduate study in tough fields like math and science, you often find foreign students at American universities receiving more of such degrees than do Americans.