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U.S. is One of the Best Countries for Entrepreneurs
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During the 2008 political campaign, Americans heard a lot of buzz about "global competitiveness" and our impending economic doom because India, China, and other nations produce a better educated workforce. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills released a report in September sounding the alarm and calling for governments and leaders to align their work with the "outcomes young people need in the 21st century."

A few organizations are pushing major changes to K-12 and higher education and the creation of "workforce-development" and "economic-development" superstructures in order to address the problem of global competitiveness. Proposals for such superstructures remind some political conservatives of "Soviet five-year plans," and education critic Diane Ravitch described Marc Tucker's similar proposal in 2007.

Writer Gerald W. Bracey offers a refreshing reality check on America's success. For example, he reminds us that international observers agree that in the category of fostering entrepreneurship, the U.S. is at or near the top of the list.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) researches entrepreneurial activity across the world. GEM's most recent report studied entrepreneurship in 42 countries, including high-income countries such as the U.S., the nations of Western Europe, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as middle- and low-income countries such as China, India, and the nations of Eastern Europe and Latin America. Based on data from GEM and the World Bank, CNNMoney.com ranked the U.S. the second-best nation in the world for entrepreneurs, just after New Zealand.

Bracey says that Americans tend to respect entrepreneurs and honor perseverance in the face of failure, two aspects of our culture that help to foster an entrepreneurial spirit. According to CNN Money, "In places such as Sweden — and even in England — a business failure is regarded as a family disgrace. In Germany, a bankrupt business owner may wind up paying creditors for 30 years, making it nearly impossible to start over. If a second act is an impossibility, ambitious entrepreneurs may never attempt the first."

The World Economic Forum and the International Institute for Management Development both rank the U.S. as the world's most competitive economy, just as it has ranked for decades.

Gerald Bracey rounds up these facts, and asks those who wish to shape economic policy around global competitiveness to keep them in mind. "So, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Roy Romer, Craig Barrett, and Bob Wise, can we lay off the math-science-good-jobs fear-mongering for a while?" Bracey pleads. Regardless of the changes we would all like to see in American education, comparisons to other nations should take all of the facts into account. (Education Week, 9-17-08)

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