, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 99-107
Date: 28 Sep 2010

Yong Zhao: Catching up or leading the way: American education in the age of globalization

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Written by a Chinese academic who is familiar with the American and Chinese educational systems, Zhao’s (2009) Catching Up or Leading the Way provides a refreshing look at American education and offers a new approach for education reform in which he calls for a paradigm shift in thinking about the purposes of education. In a nutshell, Zhao’s thesis is that the No Child Left Behind reform in the US and its extension in the Race to the Top funding will deepen the problems in the American educational system rather than improve them. He laments that these reforms discard the essential elements that have made America’s education system and society successful, elements that countries with centralized education systems like China currently seek to emulate. The book’s perspective is uplifting for American educators in that it shifts the lens away from the crisis rhetoric used in education documents such as A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983) which blame schoo