A nation’s economic growth is directly linked to its people’s educational attainment, relate Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz in their recent book, The Race Between Education and Technology. Yet since 1970, the United States has put fewer and fewer teenagers through secondary school. As a result, the country is quickly losing its competitive edge.

To reform education, we know that we must get great teaching and great learning in every classroom. But to do this, Americans must first reject an...

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