On the 2.8 million-acre Pine Ridge Indian Reservation—home to nearly 40,000 members of the Oglala Lakota Sioux nation—alcoholism and suicide, especially among young people, occur at alarmingly high rates. Families that have been poor since the U.S. government forced tribes onto reservations more than 120 years ago see few prospects for breaking out of seven or eight generations of profound poverty.
America’s education system earned headlines this week when it showed, yet again, that compared to the rest of the world, our schools perform in the middle of the pack. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tested the math, science, and reading skills of 15 year-olds in 34 countries, and America failed to crack the top ten. Our kids finished 17th in reading, 21st in science, and 26th in math— behind countries including Estonia and Poland, and even developing countries like Vietnam.
The latest results of a new global exam given to 15 year-olds showed American students to be average in science and reading and below average in math. There were little or no gains in the last decade, while other countries raced ahead of the United States. Anderson Cooper speaks with Fareed and Amanda Ripley, author of the Smartest Kids in the World and How They Got That Way, about why children in Shanghai and Finland seem to be doing so much better.