Safesex brings up a pertinent point:
Countries like my own are supposedly further down the socialist drain. We have such horrendous things as universal health care, we were the first country to let women vote, one of the first to give the vote to undeserving lower classes etc. Why is it then that literacy (ie. functional literacy) has continuosly improved in Australia for the last thrity or forty ytears?
Australia funds it’s public education system much more generously than America does.
The short answer is: I don’t know. I know nothing about the Australian educational system, but I can do a little poking around. However, the USA is the leader in global education, in the sense that educational programs and policies begin in the United States and gradually spread out from there around the globe. I was reading a Swiss web site a few months ago, and it was interesting to see that Swiss literacy rates were dropping, while the solutions being proposed were the same sort pushed by the NEA twenty years ago.
When I was in Italy, I noticed that everything was significantly less PC than in the US, but as Umberto Eco has noted, the PC movement has begun to rear its ugly head there as well. For example, the UN’s international baccalaureate program is being widely pushed worldwide, and is essentially a US-style program. So, if you were to press me for an explanation despite my general ignorance on the global education scene, I would say that despite its government funding, Australian public schools still retain vestiges of traditional approaches to learning that have been eliminated from the US schools.
But, as I said, that’s just a possibility.