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.