PALO ALTO, CA—Explaining that even the most well-meaning criticism can lead to adverse repercussions, a study released Thursday by researchers at Stanford University has found that berating the U.S. education system has only caused it to fall further behind its international peers. “We often feel compelled to point out flaws and shortcomings when we’re trying to help our nation achieve its goals, but our research shows that criticizing a struggling institution like the United States education system actually lowers its confidence and causes it to perform even more poorly,” said the study’s lead author, Julie Ostel, who noted that authorities’ tendency to harp on the country’s substandard math and science skills was correlated with steady declines in math and science test scores. “People might think they’re helping when they highlight the educational deficits of our school systems by comparing them to academic standouts like Finland or South Korea, but it’s just causing our schools to withdraw and come to the conclusion that they’re failures that don’t possess the intellect to do well. Instead, we should focus on what our institutions of learning are doing well, provide them with positive support, and let them know that we care about their future and that we know they can succeed.” Ostel added, however, that each education system is different, and that steady encouragement may not lead to an improvement in American schools, at which point the U.S. should give serious consideration to putting the nation’s 50 million students into trade schools.