As the world turns its eyes toward China for the upcoming Summer Olympic Games, former W.Va. Gov. Bob Wise has donned a sweatsuit, ready to talk international competition. But in a series of video messages being released over the next two weeks, Wise, the president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, will outline the need for the U.S. to aim to be among the best in the world not just in athletics, but in academics.
In his kickoff message, Wise talks about the “Academic Olympics” and the need for high school students to compete on the world stage.
“We train some of the best, the fastest, and most agile athletes in the world,” he says, standing in front of an image of the Birds Nest Stadium, the site of this Friday’s opening ceremonies for the Beijing Olympics. “But while our U.S. athletes usually bring home gold, silver, and bronze, there’s one international competition this year in which our young people ranked 13th! I’m talking about high school graduation rates.”
I don’t think Wise will get the kind of market share for his broadcasts as NBC will when Michael Phelps tries to add to the six gold medals he has for swimming, or when Shawn Johnson tumbles for the women’s gymnastics team. When you see the video, you’ll know why. But his screen presence aside, he makes his point. If the U.S. saw preparation of young scholars as similarly important as the development of athletic talent, we might make some headway in gaining an international reputation for our education system as well.
The video will be available here on Wednesday morning.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.