I am old enough to remember when America’s K-12 public schools were the best in the world, says Eli Broad for Takepart.com. I am a proud graduate of them, and I credit much of my success to what I learned in Detroit Public Schools and at Michigan State University. When I was in high school, not long after World War II, the United States had the top graduation rate. Since then, we have dropped behind 20 other industrialized nations. In less time than you just spent reading the last few sentences, another American student has dropped out of school. American students today rank 31st in the world in mathematics and 23rd in science. If the academic rankings of our most precious resource — our young people –­ were the rankings of our Olympic athletes, it would be a source of major national embarrassment. The most shameful part of the picture — the one that, by my count, is the civil rights issue of our time — is the dramatically lower graduation rates for poor and minority students. These students are far less likely to have access to the best teachers. By any measure, America’s schools are in the grip of a profound crisis…

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staff and wire services reports