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Employers in Japan and the United States say they can’t find enough workers to fill existing job openings. They are quick to lay the blame on the failure of schools to teach students the knowledge and skills that allow them to become productive members of the workforce. But the complaint does not stand up to scrutiny.

Scapegoating schools actually is a familiar tactic. In 1983, for example, the U.S. issued the “A Nation at Risk” report that maintained “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

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