Education: Wasteland, U.S.A.

As Congress debated last week on federal aid to education, a fresh flood of reports swamped Washington with evidence of the sorry state of the nation's schools. Items:

¶ Of all high school graduates in the top 30% of their class, only half ever go on to college. About one in five of the students in the top quarter does not even stay in high school long enough to graduate.

¶ Two out of three high school students do not take chemistry, three out of four avoid physics, seven out of eight get no trigonometry or...