The really striking thing about Mexico`s performance on the 2009 PISA school achievement tests is the lack of very high scorers. For example, on reading, 9.9% of Americans score at the 5th level or 6th level on a 0 to 6 scale. In contrast, only 0.4% of Mexicans score that high. That`s really bad.
In comparison, 1.9% of Turks score in the top two levels: not great, but several times the fraction in Mexico, suggesting that in Turkey there are small cultures of elites here and there who impress it upon their kids to hit the books hard. When I was in Bodrum, Turkey for Hans-Herman Hoppe`s conference, I was impressed by the books on sale at the supermarket across the street. Granted, Bodrum is kind of like Santa Barbara and this was an upscale supermarket in a chain headquartered in Switzerland in a nice neighborhood in a resort town, but, still, it was nice to see serious books on sale somewhere.
That suggests to me, not for the first time, that much of the blame for Mexico`s cultural malaise stems from Mexico`s rich not setting a good example for the masses, such as by not studying hard.