Every three years, the Paris-based Paris-based OECD holds its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests of the reading, math and science skills of 15-year-olds in developing and developed countries. Gurria was talking of the results of the 2009 tests.
Sixty-five nations competed. The Chinese swept the board.
The schools of Shanghai-China finished first in math, reading and science. Hong Kong-China was third in math and science. Singapore, a city-state dominated by overseas Chinese, was second in math, fourth in science.
Only Korea, Japan and Finland were in the hunt.
And the U.S.A.? America ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math, producing the familiar quack-quack.
"This is an absolute wake-up call for America," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. "We have to face the brutal truth. We have to get much more serious about investment in education."