Earlier this month, Americans woke up to the bad news that their education system was just "average" in the developed world. Worse news, however, was that Shanghai, China took the top spot. For a country already in a declinist mood, this was a blow. Perhaps not even U.S. President Barack Obama thought the future would arrive so quickly: As he told a group of educators at the White House earlier this year, the "nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow."
America is rightfully worried about its sinking competitiveness, and does indeed need to improve its education system. But it could win the battle and lose the war, because India's and China's successes aren't due to their education systems, but despite them. You've probably heard of Indian outsourcing hotspots like Bangalore and Chennai, but it's not just call centers and software sweatshops Americans now need to worry about: Technology entrepreneurship is booming all over in China and India, and is beginning to innovate; these startups will soon start competing with Silicon Valley. The next Google could well be cooked up in a garage in Guangzhou or Ahmedabad.