Winning the race, can the US compete mentally?

From Michael Phelps to Gabby Douglas, the Americans stormed London for the 30th Olympiad, providing some memorable highlights along the way.
And for a fifth summer Olympics, the United States led all countries in terms of medals won. This is a testament to the athletes that prepare year round for their individual and team events, some receiving support, both national and local, along the way.
As I watched these athletes perform amazing feats that I could never do, I saw a particular commercial that piqued my interest. A commercial you say? Yeah, I usually fast forward by them at a dizzying pace to get back to watching my countrymen dominate the Olympics. But one caught my eye and furthered my belief that my country could learn something from these athletes.
A commercial was aired that had the Exxon Mobil Corporation sponsor the National Math and Science Initiative. In the commercial, 31 countries took a science test in which the United States ranked 17th.
At first, I wasn’t shocked. But then I wondered if the statistics got better. Unfortunately, they did not.
In February 2011 a graph by The Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of Southern California listed 12 countries, including the United States, and compared them in various categories, including the annual amount of money spent on education, the amount spent per school-aged child (from age 6 to 23) and school life expectancy. Things like the  amount per child were obviously higher than all other countries. And even then, the literacy rate and school life expectancy compared favorably to the other countries.
However, in the final statistic, each country was given a test score, out of 600, for math and science. The U.S. received a score of 474 (third worst) and 489 (fourth worst), respectively. Is final performance the main issue?
More than ever before, I am beginning to believe this the cause. The meaning of receiving your high school diploma, but a college degree has unquestionably been lost over time. The only people to blame are those who act as if receiving the degree is the final step.
I understand that the cost of higher education has increased and the government, both federal and our own state, are not helping the situation. But two wrongs do not make a right. It is upon us, the students, to care.
Take pride in your field of study. Make sure that you have a career by proving you are skilled. Train and push yourself as hard as the athletes that compete in the Olympics do. If we begin to take the initiative and place importance back to where it should be, the classroom, we would begin to realize our mistakes elsewhere in our society.
The true importance of education is not of competition with other countries, like the Olympics, but for the improvement of the country’s society. Take pride in yourself and your education, and then we may begin to see our leaders care for us.
Take pride in your field of study. Make sure that you have a career by proving you are skilled. Train and push yourself as hard as the athletes that compete in the Olympics do. If we begin to take the initiative and place importance back to where it should be, the classroom, we would begin to realize our mistakes elsewhere in our society.
The true importance of education is not of competition with other countries, like the Olympics, but for the improvement of the country’s society. Take pride in yourself and your education, and then we may begin to see our leaders care for us.