David Brooks recently wrote a great article about education's impact on the economy:
Starting intensive education earlier (Scotland starts its first grade at 4 years old, at least when I was there) and investing in all-day (9AM to 6PM) elementary schools may be a wise choice. When I tutored at UC Davis, I was stunned at how poorly some UC students wrote, especially after the supposedly higher educational requirements for admission. God only knows what teachers and tutors have to deal with in the California State University (CSU) system.
One personal anecdote: the ESL students, usually foreign residents earning math, science, or engineering degrees, worked the hardest on their writing. Some students even hired me for private work. I remember being ecstatic about making 15 dollars an hour when a South Korean student hired me as a private tutor. Back then, 15 dollars was major bling-bling and meant dinner at the local Thai restaurant (Sophie's Kitchen, apparently under different ownership now, so I can't personally vouch for it) rather than the 99 cent chicken sandwich at Jack-in-the-Box. I discovered sushi for the first time in Davis also. Yup, those were the days.