I'm going to give you a little help, to all of you who would want to overly criticize the US Educational system : you don't get to know a lot about other countries when you live outside the US ; they're not an exception but globally the rule. The main difference is not lying in the educational system, it's rather lying in the culture and media. US culture and media are pretty much self-centered, because almost everybody who has a decent life in the US believe they live in the best country in the World - something that I, as a Frenchman, with the reputation of a people who like putting themselves above others, would not do. The government itself is striving to be best, too. In fact, when you read US policies, they're not those of a state that shows real interest in dealing with others as long as they can avoid it. The US are playing the game not to live alongside others, they strive for profit and little else, whereas almost every other country in the World and in the Western World does care (Kyoto protocol, the ICC and several other issues being the fruit of that care - all of which the US refused to get into in the end). Bush's controverted (at least outside the US) SDI initiative is regarded as a threat outside your borders not because it would protect American people (so long as you're not a brainless hardcore Al-QaÃ«da fanatic) but because it would place the US in a position where they could lord over all without bothering to wonder whether we'd like it or not. Given the US's current poor international record, we certainly don't want that ; if the US citizens I'm adressing here are responsible citizens (and I do bet you are ), you'll certainly understand there's reason for concern from a point of view from outside the US. You may not agree with all I said - that's your right, and I would for no reason try and deprive you from it. But do pay attention to the fact a country that says it's the first and foremost Human Rights defender, and thus the first and foremost enforcer of the idea that all men are equal, should invest so much in a project that'll make them anything but equal whereas the money they'll spend on it is dozens and sometimes hundreds of times the money "equal" states get to spend every year, and refuses to abide by the same constraints those "equal" states must live under, lest what little help we give them to keep their heads above water would be taken back from them and they'd be left to die miserably.