If you think the U.S. is #1, you need a reality check

It is time for all of us to wake up and realize that this nation is not the best in the world and there are certain issues that we need to address.

Our life expectancy in 2000, according to the World Health Organization, is ranked 24th in the world, and our overall healthcare is ranked 37th. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the U.S. has the highest rate of teen pregnancy: 80 percent are out of wedlock.

Richard Estes, from the University of Pennsylvania, ranked the U.S. 27th in social progress. Reporters Without Borders ranks the U.S. 31st in regards to press freedom, a tie with Greece. In a study of rich countries and how they help poor countries based on aid, trade, investment and other factors, Foreign Policy magazine ranks the U.S 20th. According to King’s College in London, England, the U.S. also has the highest prison population in both absolute and proportional terms.

We are in the top 10 in regards to high school diplomas. According to the latest census, at least 85 percent of the population over 25 has one. We are second, behind Norway, in regards to college graduates (27 percent). What is interesting is the fact that the American education system from K-12 is less than adequate but once a student reaches college, the investment level on behalf of the government is increased. There is more funding for each student for those few years than most of the pre-college years combined. All of a sudden, education is a priority. In this year’s world university rankings in The Times (U.K.) Higher Education Supplement, the top four schools, out of 200, are from the U.S. Overall there are 65 U.S schools in the top 200.

Before we can boast about this we need to understand that most of the students that are admitted to these schools were provided with the best life has to offer and exist in a world foreign to most of the rest of the nation. In a nation that spends more on military technology and defense, has the highest GDP, and the highest number of billionaires, we still lag in many other categories. The U.S has a long way to go to achieve number one status overall in the world. Do not, for one second, allow your national pride to interfere with the work that needs to be done to make this a better place. The onus is on us as future leaders to play an active role in changing this nation into one that is truly the best.

Vontilla Steven can be contacted at v.steven@umiami.edu.