K. Lloyd Billingsleys article in todays Washington Times (Education Payouts Lack Payoff) on the need to cut back the influence of the Department of Education contained some interesting facts about Canada. It turns out that leftist, progressive Canada has no equivalent of the U.S. Department of Education. Education policy is set much more locally. Here is the analysis:

Canada has no federal education ministry or department and no federal Cabinet official for K-12 education. At the federal level, Canada spends virtually nothing on K-12 education and on a per-student basis, spends about 20 percent less than the United States. Yet Canada is outperforming the United States.

On the International Student Assessment, a system of tests measuring the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, math and science literacy, Canada tops the United States by a wide margin. In math, Americans score 474, well below the international average of 498, and far below Canadas 527. On the 2006 Progress in Reading Literacy Study exam, the major Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario significantly outscore the United States in fourth-grade reading.

In Canada, all funding and policymaking takes place at the provincial and local levels. In America, education is the responsibility of the states, but the federal government has increasingly pursued a top-down approach, with measures such as President Bushs No Child Left Behind and President Obamas Race to the Top. Mr. Obama - who sends his own children to an exclusive private school - has also been active at the local level.