One of the most fundamental obligations of any society is to prepare its adolescents and young adults to lead productive and prosperous lives as adults. This means preparing all young people with a solid enough foundation of literacy, numeracy, and thinking skills for responsible citizenship, career development, and lifelong learning. For over a century, the United States led the world in equipping its young people with the education they would need to succeed. By the middle of the 19th century, as Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz write in their book, The Race between Education and Technology, “the U.S. already had the most educated youth in the world.” At the turn of the 20th century, just as Europe was catching up, the rapid spread of the “high school movement” helped the U.S. vault ahead again.
Ferguson, Ronald. "Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Teens and Young Adults for the 21st Century." Pathways to Prosperity Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education, February 2011.