Newsweek has published its first-ever “100 Best Countries” special issue, which measures and ranks the countries in the world according to five indicators of national well-being: education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness, and political environment.

Of the “100 Best Countries,” the U.S. ranks 11th, just behind Denmark and ahead of Germany, with an overall score of 85.51. What is notable is that of the countries ranked in the top 10, all of them are small in terms of either geographic size or population. In that sense, smaller is better.

From the article:

“While there’s no denying the vitality of emerging-market giants like China or Brazil or Turkey, they are often bested by tiny nations like Slovenia or Estonia, according to the data, simply because it takes less effort for these countries to improve their overall levels of well-being.”

For its size, then, the U.S. ranked very well. Its ranking was pulled up by its score for economic dynamism, which measured factors like productive growth, innovation, the ease of doing business, and how quickly new businesses can start up. The U.S. took second place in world-wide economic dynamism, second only to Singapore.

What depressed America’s lead overall, however, was our rank in education. The U.S. ranked 26th in education, falling in place behind Latvia. The “Best Countries” ranking system measured only literacy rates and average years of schooling, however even in these areas, Finland, Canada, and Japan performed far better.

This is another critical sign that the U.S. needs to improve its educational system so that the workforce of tomorrow is prepared with the essential knowledge, training and skills that it will need to compete globally.

From the article:

‘We’ve flat-lined while other countries have passed us by,’ Arne Duncan said in early August, referring to another grim milestone: a report by the College Board that showed an “alarming” decline in young American adults who have completed college; once a global leader, the United States now ranks 12th in the world by that measure. ‘The country that out-educates us today will out-compete us tomorrow,’ Duncan warned.

This is supported by a recent study by McKinsey and Co. which showed that the growing gaps in educational achievement between the United States and other leading nations “impose the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession—one substantially larger than the deep recession the country is currently experiencing.”

A ranking of 26 for education seems odd, also, compared to how highly the U.S. placed in economic dynamism, political environment, and overall quality of life.

Corporate Voices for Working Families believes that workforce readiness today is a critical component of economic competitiveness and success tomorrow. Through its Ready by 21 and Earn and Learn programs, Corporate Voices is working with businesses and local communities to engage youth and prepare them for college, work, and life. It is also mapping model public-private partnerships between the private sector and business that enable young people to gain an education while also earning a paycheck. It is these partnerships and synergies between businesses and communities, in additional to national educational reform, that will ensure our youth are ready for tomorrow’s workforce and global economy.