Endangering Prosperity

A Global View of the American School
"Demonstration that levels of achievement, which seem inconceivable to many American educators, are regularly reached in other parts of the world should and can be a powerful spur to improvement to American education. That is why this book is so important."

Lawrence H. Summers, former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury

"America faces many pressures ranging from achieving long-run fiscal balance to maintaining our strong national security. As Hanushek, Peterson, and Woessmann persuasively show, these pressures could be dramatically lessened by improving our schools."

George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State

"Just when you thought we’d reached a consensus on the need to dramatically improve America’s schools, a chorus is emerging to suggest all is well. Endangering Prosperity contains all the facts and figures needed to put an end to such dangerous and misguided thinking."

Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City schools

"If the United States is to continue to be the experiment in liberty and freedom for which those who founded our great country sacrificed their lives, we must find a way to fix our schools. If we continue on the path we are on, we endanger more than just our prosperity, as the authors of this powerful volume make clear."

Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida

"Endangering Prosperity makes a compelling case that K-12 public education in the United States is lagging compared to its international counterparts—and that the issue extends across the socioeconomic spectrum. The economic costs are simply too great, the authors persuasively argue, to accept the timid incrementalism that too often passes for 'reform.'"

Chris Cerf, Commissioner of Education, State of New Jersey

"Seen from abroad, it is clear that America’s schools could do better. Endangering Prosperity accurately describes the challenges facing U.S. schools, but also shows the rewards that could come from improvement."

Sir Michael Barber, former advisor to U. K. Prime Minister Tony Blair

About the book

The relative deficiencies of U.S. public schools are a serious concern to parents and policymakers. But they should be of concern to all Americans, as a globalizing world introduces new competition for talent, markets, capital, and opportunity. In Endangering Prosperity, a trio of experts on international education policy compares the performance of American schools against that of other nations.


If the superintendents of failing school districts were as adept at fixing schools as they are at making excuses for their poor performance, America would have the best education system in the world.

Instead, the just-released tests administered by the Program for International Student Assessment show that other countries are making faster progress than the United States.

Our teenagers are now ranked 26th in math, 21st in science and 17th in reading. Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong are leading the pack.


Eric Hanushek is the Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. He has been a leader in the development of economic analysis of educational issues with his work frequently entering into the design of national and international educational policy.

Paul Peterson is the Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government in the Department of Government at Harvard University. He directs the Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance, is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and is the Editor-In-Chief of Education Next, a journal of opinion and research.

Ludger Woessmann is Professor of Economics, especially Economics of Education, at the University of Munich, and Director of the Ifo Center for the Economics of Education and Innovation.