Friday, October 26, 2007

Wisdom

THE KNOWLEDGE REVOLUTION
Why Victory Will Go to the Smartest Nations & Companies


Nations that learn faster will prosper. But it will take something else – wisdom – to endure.

ZAKARIA, Fareed – The Earth's Learning Curve. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 7
 

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Knowledge

Knowledge can produce equally powerful ways to destroy life, intentionally and unintentionally. It can produce hate and seek destruction. Knowledge does not by itself bring any answer to the ancient Greek question “What is a Good Life?” It does not produce good sense, courage, generosity and tolerance. And most crucially, it does not produce the farsightedness that will allow us to live together – and grow together – on this world without causing war, chaos and catastrophe. For that we need wisdom.

ZAKARIA, Fareed – The Earth's Learning Curve. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 8

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Science and Engineering

Now science and engineering, which first helped to advance the Industrial Revolution, have become critical in advancing the services revolution. Services such as supply-chain management represent an increasing proportion of business revenues in the developed world, and “need more science and engineering” in how they are designed, built and deployed ... “Otherwise, their complexity and costs will be a major impediment to progress.”

FRIEDMAN, Thomas L. - The Exhausting Race for Ideas. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 11

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Flat World

It is no surprise, therefore, that those societies with the most innovative scientists, universities, engineers and technology companies able to solve complex problems … have enjoyed rising standards of living over those societies without them. What I call the “flattening” of the world – the fact that more people from more places have more tools to compete, connect and collaborate than ever before – is only accelerating this, for several reasons.

The first has to do with the fall of the wall and the rise of Windows.

FRIEDMAN, Thomas L. - The Exhausting Race for Ideas. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 11

Monday, October 22, 2007

Race for IQs

This has made knowledge so much more valuable for individuals, and helped transform the global power game from one that was mainly about the race for ICBMs into one that is more about a race for IQs. The more knowledge workers your country has who are able to author their own content and innovations in digital form, the more productive your economy and, therefore, the more powerful your country.

FRIEDMAN, Thomas L. - The Exhausting Race for Ideas. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 11

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Best

Given the ease with which capital can move to the smartest, most efficient, most reliable work force, having more skilled and capable workers than the next country becomes essential for attracting and holding the best jobs for the longest time.

FRIEDMAN, Thomas L. - The Exhausting Race for Ideas. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 12

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Working Smarter

Working smarter and smarter rather than working cheaper and harder is really the only strategy for a developed society to compete with a low-wage juggernaut … Why? Because we need our workers to leverage technology so that one person can do the work of 20 rather than have 20 cheap laborers do the work of one.

FRIEDMAN, Thomas L. - The Exhausting Race for Ideas. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 12

Friday, October 19, 2007

Talent

Creative-sector occupations – in science and technology, art and design, culture and entertainment – have grown since 1980 from 12 percent of the work force to between 30 and 40 percent in most advanced countries today. This makes talent the fundamental factor of production, and attracting such talent the central battle in global competition.

FLORIDA, Richard - Minds on the Move. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 14

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thrive

To thrive … , nations must bring out the best from all workers, not just a select elite. They must have respect for the rule of law and intellectual property rights, and encourage risk taking and innovation in flat organizations and informal communities, which can share knowledge without unnecessary delay or filters, unhindered by rigid hierarchy or political correctness.

LEE Hsien Loong - The Singapore Way. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 32

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Thinking Hands

We must move beyond gathering and managing knowledge to emphasize creating our own knowledge. We are doubling our R&D investments over the next five years. The government will provide the initial push in terms of funding, manpower training and capability building. But the purpose is to jump-start private-sector R&D efforts that will ultimately yield economic dividends. Our public libraries epitomize the way technology helps every citizen to access and exploit information. Users can reserve books, videos or Cds from anywhere in the system, even over the Internet, and return them anywhere convenient. Every item is tagged and tracked with a radio-frequency identification chip, and IT makes it all work. There will be no barrier to knowledge, information and lifelong learning.

Our universities maintain open access, but rigorous academic standards; our polytechnics impart professional expertise through a practice-based curriculum, and our Institute of Technical Education equips students with hands-on technical skills and critical thinking habits. We are also investing heavily in upgrading the skills of the work force, keeping older workers current and employable. On an intelligent island, every pair of hands has to be a pair of thinking hands. None should be mere hewers of wood or drawers of water.

Globalization will force nations to reallocate resources, restructure their economies and reorient their societies for the future. Singaporeans accept this as a given. We are remaking ourselves into a key node in the global knowledge network, securing our place under the sun (Lee, p. 32).

LEE Hsien Loong - The Singapore Way. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 32

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Suitable for Employment

Of the [China] mainland’s 1.6 million young engineers, so many are biased toward theory, with little hands on-project experience, that only one tenth of them are considered suitable for employment in multinational companies, according to McKinsey & Co. consulting.

Liu, Melinda - How High?. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 34

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sharing

The new work paradigm – sharing, rather than protecting, trade secrets – is quickly becoming the way forward.

Foroohar, Rana - Learning to Share. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 40

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Networks

… economics itself is changing; Thomas Schelling was given this year’s Nobel Prize, in part, for showing that people tend to cooperate a lot more than traditional, rational economic models say they will. In an upcoming book entitled “The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom,” Yale professor Yochai Benkler sees a fundamental break with the past, when people worked in one of two ways: under the orders of managers in big organizations or for themselves, following market cues. Now, says Benkler, “we’re seeing the emergence of a new, third mode of production,” which he calls “the new networked information economy.”

Foroohar, Rana - Learning to Share. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 41

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Services vs. Patents

IBM earns more on Linux services, than it does from its entire patent portfolio.

Foroohar, Rana - Learning to Share. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 42

Friday, October 12, 2007

Open-Source

This economic flattening doesn't stop at the corporate world. It's no accident that the Scandinavian countries at the top of the World Economic Forum's "most competitive" list are those that use open-source principles in government. Finland and Denmark, for example, save hundreds of millions of euros a year by emplying open-source systems for jobs like bidding on government contracts. Thailand is moving toward open source after it found that coordination between government agencies and NGOs was hindered during tsunami relief because each group was working on separate computer systems.

This goes beyond code to issues of social and economic inclusion. In the United Kingdom, New Labor has for several years been pushing "joined-up" government as a way of solving the complex problems of the day. Geoff Mulgan, the prime minister's former head of policy, envisions a day soon in which citizens will participate in parliamentary processes online, perhaps even helping to draft legislation.

The ramifications of knowledge sharing are even greater for developing nations. Countries like Brazil, India, South Africa and China opt for open source, in part, because they don't want to run their armies, and everything else, on software made in Redmond, Washington. "By allowing countries to feel more like participants in the commercial process, rather than just customers, it produces a more self-confident society," says Charles Nesson, head of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "That, in turn, produces a more secure global environment."

Foroohar, Rana - Learning to Share. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 42

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Real Power

As economic models of selfishness and competition evolve under pressure from the open-source philosophy, a new "science of happiness" has sprung up to analyze what – beyond monetary rewards for specific tasks – really satisfies us. One of the answers, it seems, is connection to others, and an important role in shapping our own world. If that sounds softheaded, consider the backlash. Sharing knowledge is a serious threat to the status quo. China is forcing Internet companies to turn over digital information on dissents. Hollywood and the music industry are pushing for tougher patent and copyright laws. The bottom line is something that Smith would not dispute: groups have greater stores of knowledge than individuals. And knowledge is power. Not soft power. Real power.

Foroohar, Rana - Learning to Share. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 42

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Flow of Knowledge

Blocking the free flow of knowledge, paradoxically, exacerbates the excess supply, diminishes human welfare and puts us on the road to economic extinction.

Quah, Danny - Knowledge Glut. In «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p. 43

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Knowledge Workers

1) Hire by committee
2) Cater to their every need
3) Pack them in
4) Make coordination easy
5) Eat your own dog food
6) Encourage creativity
7) Strive to reach consensus
8) Don't be evil
9) Data drive decisions
10) Communicate effectively

Versão integral do artigo

SCHMIDT, Eric; VARIAN, Hal – Google: Ten Golden Rules, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 48, 52 – 53.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Stealth

Let’s locate the greatest vulnerability of the “knowledge economy.” Easy. It’s ignorance. In a globalized and digitized world, we are awash in what might be called “microknowledge”: data bases, music downloads and financial transactions, eBay’s annual listings are now approaching 2 billion, almost five times the level in 2001. Half are outside the United States; from 12 percent to 15 percent of final sales involve cross-border purchases. But then there’s “macroknowledge,” meaning the great forces that move history: the impact of new ideas, mass movements and technologies; changes in political and social systems; the evolution of geopolitical relations; the transformation of cultures. Here we are where we’ve always been: we’re in the dark.

Samuelson, Robert J. - The Stealth Factor, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 74 – 75.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Knowledge Asymmetry

The connection between education and social and upward mobility has never been more stark for the Indian people. There are countless examples of families sacrificing on basic necessities to ensure that their children get the right education. Demand for English classes, from the first grade on up, is booming. But primary education remains the bane of India. For Indians older than 6, the national mean for years of schooling is three. In neighboring Sri Lanka it is 7.5. There is now a huge drive to ensure that basic education is made accessible to every Indian child. India’s youthful demographics should be a competitive advantage, but it will be wasted without broader access to primary education.

The final frontier of the rise of Indian education is in governance. India has the benefit of being a free society. The diversity of opinion, the traditional adherence to representational democracy and a vigorous free media help ensure that there is healthy debate, with checks on the abuse of power and corruption. Yet there are still those who yearn for a harder regime, with less debate about development strategies and more action. And there is still too much government secrecy and corruption. The solution to this conundrum is to marry all the strengths of India – its highly educated and globally aware talent, its democratic traditions and the power of modern information technology. If this is done to ensure that the knowledge asymmetry between the ruler and the ruled is eliminated by exposing the innards of government functioning to the people, then the holy grail of a society that both is free and can rapidly eliminate poverty will be achieved.

India could even be a model for nations seeking to go from developing to developed status on the strengths of its education and its knowledge economy.

Nilekani, Nandan - Poor and Mighty, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 93.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Unemployable

Yes, India is rising fast as a tech power and turning out 280,000 engineers a year, but according to various analysts, as few as one in 25 is ready for international competition.

...

Today that are an estimated 5,3 million university graduates in India who are unemployed, having been left behind by the increasing rigorous demands of the tech-driven economy. While India’s top universities - such as it seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and a few other elite institutions – turn out world-class graduates, fewer than 1 percent of India’s 3 million annual grads attend those schools. “There is a need to make India’s institutions of high education and research world-class,” said Indian Prime Minister Mammohan Singh last August as he launched a Knowledge Commission to advise him on how to fix the broken universities.

For all the hype about India’s rise as an Information Age power, its higher-education system is largely antiquated and grossly underfunded. Not a single Indian University is among the top 10 in Asia, let alone the world, according to the National Association of Software and Service Companies, an umbrella organization for India’s $5 billion outsourcing industry, which scrambles to fill the 150,000 new jobs it creates each year. “The graduates you see on the outside, in places like Silicon Valley, are the cherry on the cake,” says Shekhar Gupta, CEO of Indian Express Newspapers, “but underneath the cake is largely rotten.”

For starters, there are not enough Indians attending universities. While 82 percent of college-age youth in America attend a university, only 7 percent (a total of 10 million) do in India. For India to become a “global power” in the next decade says Sam Pitroda, the Knowledge Commission’s chairman, it needs to begin attending to its vast underclass and send 25 percent of its youth to universities - good universities. “We eventually need 70, not just seven IITs,” he says.

The rub is money. India spends only 3 percent of its budget on education - compared with 17 percent spent on defense - and less than one third of that goes to its 342 public universities and their 17,000 affiliated colleges. Most Indian university students face overcrowded lecture halls and classrooms, dilapidated buildings and inadequate labs, computer banks and libraries. Many facilities and teaching practices date to colonial times when, Indian critics say, the British set up universities to turn out babus, or loyal clerks. To this day, critics say, there are way too many “soft” courses such as Sanskrit and philosophy. “The higher-education indication system is very much cut off from reality” and the needs of today’s labor market, says Father Ambrose Pinto, principal of Bangalore-based St. Joseph’s College

Besides the IITs, a few top universities do serve the job market well, marrying academic excellence to the needs of a rapidly modernizing India. At New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, the first to set up a biotechnology center, many students major in interdisciplinary life sciences, international relations or economics and finance. But like all public universities - there are only a handful of the good private universities - JNU is wholly funded and largely governed by the central government’s University Grants Commission.

Because of India’s egalitarian outlook, the commission doles out its budget more or less equally to all 342 public universities, whether they are in expensive cities or remote Bihar. Faculty salaries start at a little more than $400 a month, including perks, and the rise to just over $1,000 for a full professor, whether one teaches Sanskrit or economics. A top graduate in economics can start at $2,000 in the private sector, so it is no wonder that senior faculty are fleeing for the business world. “Forget hiring new faculty for emerging academic fields like biotechnology,” says M. S. Thimmappa, vice chancellor of Bangalore University. “I don’t even have the funds to fill 150 teaching posts that have been vacant for years.”

All university students, regardless of their school or major, pay the same tuition of about $10 a year. Educational reformers argue that fees should be hiked for the wealthiest, but New Delhi has not heeded the call.

Already, educators and business leaders say that the quality of university graduates is in decline. According to the umbrella association for software and service companies, only about 10,000 of the 280,000 engineers who graduate annually, or just 4 percent, are of international caliber. A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute rated 25 percent of Indian engineering grads as qualified for work in multinational companies, compared with 50 percent of Hungarian or Polish graduates. JNU vice chancellor B. B. Bhattacharya says the top 10 percent of Indian grads are world-class but the remaining 90 percent are “almost unemployable.”

Nor are private schools necessarily the answer. In 2003, Chhattisgarh state, with two public universities for a population of 21 million, passed a law allowing private universities. Over the next 18 months, more than 100 such schools opened for business, charging high fees. But many were run out of tenement apartments and of little educational value. Eventually the Supreme Court stepped in, shutting most of them down.

More funding is not likely. The government’s spending priorities are defense, popular subsidies and property programs. Bhattacharya can see one rosy budget scenario: Indian strikes a surprise simultaneous peace with China and Pakistan, freeing defense funds for higher education. That unlikely vision shows, says Bhattacharya, that plans for improving India’s universities are in the “dream stage.” That’s a pity, because without a topflight higher-education system catering to a wider swath of Indian youth, the county’s dreams of becoming a First World power one day may never be realized.

Moreau, Ron; Chatterjee, Sumeet - The Unemployable Masses, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 94-5.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Classless

The international comparisons show clearly that performance variations between schools and between students tend to be greater in those countries that channel kids at an early age into different levels of programs and schools

The German school system, for example, divides kids at as young as ten years into vocational and academic tracks. Children of white-collar parents are four times more likely than blue-collar children to enroll in the university track - even if they do not perform any better. While Germany’s policymakers have been pursuing educational reforms on many fronts, they shied away from tackling these structural inequities. While some officials claim they need to wait for conclusive evidence of socioeconomic disparities that will take at least a decade to collect, kids are being left behind. Many other countries show similar patterns; France did not even bother to publish PISA’s evidence on social inequalities between schools.

Similar patterns are visible in higher education. Among the 30 members of the OECD, most are sending more people to college, but some are gaining faster than others. Since 1960 South Korea has tripled its number of graduates, as a share of population, and rose from 21st to 3rd in OECD rankings. Most of Europe’s major economies, including France, Italy and the United Kingdom, just held their ground or fell behind. Germany dropped from 14th to 23rd.

These gaps are likely to widen. Most continental European countries are not making the investment required to create more university openings. Average government spending per higher-education student in the European Union is less than half of that in the United States. And Europe still tends to block universities from charging tuition, on the ground that making people pay will hurt the disadvantaged. The truth is that the higher-education spending in Europe is very regressive now, with working-class children highly underrepresented. In France and Germany, only about one third of all secondary-school grads go on to higher education.

Access to universities is much broader in other wealthy regions. In Northern Europe more than two thirds of secondary-school grads now go on to higher education, the result of massive public spending. The United States and many English-speaking countries, as well as Japan and South Korea, have opened higher education to more students by making those able pay for part of the costs. But quality in education is not only a question of money. The United States and Italy are ranked 1st and 4th on spending per student until the age of 15, but only 26th and 24th in terms of the performance of 15-year-olds. In contrast, Finland and the Netherlands ranked 15th and 14th on spending but 1st and 3rd on mathematics performance.

Europe’s school system has yet to become a modern-knowledge industry, in the sense of one constantly transformed by the latest intelligence on best practices. There is, of course, a large body of research about learning, but much of it is unrelated to real life learning. Even the relevant research has an insufficient impact because education is dominated by local practitioners working in isolation and relying on folk wisdom about what works. Central direction, which still dominates European schools, needs to give way to teacher engagement in the search for what works.

Some argue that leaving schools greater discretion will lead to greater inequality. The evidence suggests otherwise: Finland, which has freed schools and teachers to create a “knowledge rich” environment, is not only the top performer overall, but test performance varies little from school to school. And some of the most centralized European systems, including Austria, Germany, France and Switzerland, display some of the largest performance differences between schools.

Educational outcomes matter. OECD studies show that the money and time individuals spend on university qualifications pay dividends that are larger than real interest rates, and often significantly so. Moreover, the earnings gap between the well educated and the rest is a growing in most OECD countries. Not least, improved education helps to raise labor productivity and technological progress. Among OECD nations, a one-year increase in the average education level of the population raises economic output by 3 to 6 percent. Widening access to education is a smart competitive move.

Schleicher, Andreas - A Classless Act, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 96-97.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sputnik Was Nothing

How much longer will the United States be a superpower? Not much, if we do not wake up to the fact that our economic strength, which has underpinned our political and military might for two centuries, is decaying. In the 21st century, economic power will be derived from skills and innovation. Nations that don't invest in skills will weaken: it is that straightforward. And today the evidence of U.S. decline is even more urgent than the shocks that sent us scrambling after Sputnik in the late 1950s or during Japan's surge in the late 1980s.

America is no longer winning the skills race. South Korea, with one sixth of the U.S. population, graduates as many engineers as the United States. China graduates four times as many; India, five times as many. Just as more than half of America's current science and engineering work force is approaching retirement, the flow of foreign talent is starting to dry up. For the first time in my memory, we're at the wrong end of a brain drain, as foreign-born grads in science, technology and engineering either return home after getting U.S. degrees or stay home in the first place.

And we are not replenishing those losses from within. In international mathematics exams, 15-year-old American students performed well below the mean of participating countries. This is little surprise, since teaching out of one's field of expertise is common in the United States, especially in math and science. Nearly 70 percent of American middle-school students are assigned to teachers who have had neither a major nor certification in mathematics.

The United States needs a new strategy. We must start by improving teaching in public schools, where more than 85 percent of our schoolchildren are educated. If teaching remains a second-rate profession, America's economy will be driven by second-rate skills. The Teaching Commission, the bipartisan organization I founded, has articulated an agenda to re-create the teaching profession. Local boards and superintendents must pay teachers much more and reward performance with sensible market incentives, so we can attract the best and brightest.

Schools of education have for years been sleeping cash cows, which college presidents have refused to disturb. Teacher-training standards are too low. Curricula are focused too much on pedagogical theory and too little on subject content and pragmatic technique. The result: teacher-education programs are contributing to the problem of inadequate teacher quality. Governors must pressure college presidents to raise standards, redesign programs of study and launch universitywide efforts to get top graduates, especially those with math and science majors, to enter teaching.

We must clear away stifling bureaucracy. States need to streamline certification and licensing while raising professional standards. Localities need to free principals from onerous teacher work rules, so they can assemble teams and lead. Businesses must also play their part. A good model is the Transition to Teaching program announced recently by my former company, IBM, which will enable some of its most experienced employees to become fully accredited teachers.

A new national strategy doesn't stop at the schoolhouse door. There is also a powerful emerging consensus for action, perhaps best articulated in a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences. In order to preserve America's "strategic and economic security," the Academy says, the nation needs, among other things, to recruit 10,000 science and math teachers annually through merit-based scholarships, ramp up federal investment in basic research by 10 percent a year over the next seven years and offer new competitive grants for the study of math, science and engineering.

We should heed those calls and consider other bold strokes, including reinventing our federal departments of Labor and Education as an integrated, innovative Department of Skills—with a name and a mission that actually reflect the work that needs to be done. This is no time for complacency. Developing economies are surging and developed economies are slipping. Only a serious, swift and sweeping effort to close this gap will keep us healthy competitors.

Gerstner, Louis V. Jr. - Sputnik Was Nothing, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 98.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Serious

In the knowledge economy, what you know is more important than where you live. So how do we keep our edge? First, by giving every student a quality education from the start. Four years ago we launched the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act. It promised higher classroom standards, more choices for parents and greater flexibility for states. Above all, it demanded accountability for results.

Our schools are delivering. Fourth- and eighth-grade math scores have risen to record highs, according to the "Nation's Report Card." Young African-American and Hispanic students have dramatically narrowed the "achievement gap." And among all 9-year-olds, more reading progress was made in the past five years than in the previous three decades. We're keeping our promise. Among older students, however, the world threatens to leave us behind.

The evidence is mounting and troubling. The United States has fallen to ninth in the world in high-school graduation rates among 25- to 34-year-olds. Studies show that less than half of those who do graduate are ready for college-level math and science. "The scientific and technical building blocks of our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength," reports the respected National Academy of Sciences.

Thomas L. Friedman, author of "The World Is Flat," argues that other nations have learned to take advantage of innovations the United States pioneered. Sadly, in many respects, our education system has not taken advantage.

This is especially true of high schools, which Bill Gates calls "obsolete." Twelfth-grade exit exams usually measure ninth-and 10th-grade skills, leading colleges and employers to discount the results. Fewer than half the states require at least three years of math and science to graduate. Only one in five graduates in the work force says he or she was adequately challenged by coursework. It's no wonder high-school test scores have barely budged since the 1970s—or that states spend $220 million a year on remedial writing for public employees.

Our high schools deserve reform. The president and I want to provide states with the resources to measure student knowledge in core subjects annually, and to offer intensive reading instruction to students who badly need it. A high school diploma must be a ticket to success in college and the work force, which are increasingly connected in the knowledge economy. About 80 percent of the fastest-growing jobs will require some postsecondary education.

But at a time when we need to take higher education more seriously, much of the media and culture treat it as a lark. While helping my daughter prepare for her freshman year, I found plenty of guides on the best party schools and "Schools That Rock," but none on, say, the highest earnings after graduation.

Parents and students need better information—and so do policymakers. I have formed the Commission on the Future of Higher Education to address the vital issues of access, affordability, accountability and quality. Too often, families assume that they are priced out of the college market. And too often, policymakers assume that students are being equipped with the critical thinking skills needed to prosper in the knowledge economy. We must replace assumptions with data.

Preparing for the future is a moral and economic imperative. Last year China's schools graduated more than 600,000 engineers and India's schools produced 350,000, compared with 70,000 in America. Do the math: their top 10 percent outnumbers all of America's. Many firms may agree with Intel chairman Craig R. Barrett: "If the world's best engineers are produced in India or Singapore, that is where our companies will go."

Thanks to our schools, the 20th century was known as the American century. The 21st century is still up for grabs. We know what works—higher expectations, more choices and better data. It's time to make education in America a picture of reform.

Spellings, Margaret - Let’s Get Serious, in «Issues 2006», Nova Iorque: Newsweek, 2005, p 99.