According to a recent AP article the US ranks ninth for 24 to 34 year olds with a high school education. We tied Belgium for seventh for college education in the same age group. Just twenty years ago, we were 1st in both categories. So much for no child left behind! Despite that much touted program it appears we have slipped. Part of that is due to the cuts to local aid that towns have had to absorb into their school budgets. This means that some teachers had to be let go. The smaller class sizes that was once the supreme target, were now doubling in size.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, recent articles have stated that some Tea Party representatives are pushing to privatize schools. They say that the taxpayers should not have to foot the bill, it is up to the parents to educate their kids. Well, what happens to the middle class who are struggling to get by, or the poor who can barely afford to feed their kids?
Another noteworthy thing in that AP article was that the US is an information economy. For the time being, we are still number one when it comes to information, but do to our falling education level, we are slowly slipping on that slope. So the one thing we are good at outside of war and weapons, we are starting to slide on that too.
The Tea Party and some Republicans think that our education system is broken so rather than try to fix it, they say we should do away with it and let the parents take up the responsibility. How is that going to keep us number one and get us back into first for education? We need to stop flapping our lips and saying things like, “It takes a village” or “No child left behind”, hollow words. We need to actually put education first in this country. Yes, get in there and find out what isn’t working and why? Sometimes, we may find that the reason is that we aren’t funding it right. Sometimes it might be because of text books that are just plain wrong. Pretty sad when a student points it out to a teacher and the teacher says, yeah, they know but they have to teach it that way or get fired. Maybe part of the problem is like with medicine, we have bureaucrats calling the shots and telling the professionals what to do. Maybe the first thing is to let the teachers teach. The other thing is that we need to double down on education not pull it apart. We need to make it more affordable for our students to progress beyond a high school education. It is just getting way too expensive.
My daughter is ready to go to college. She wanted to go to a state college out of state. In the end, she would graduate owing over $800 a month for fifteen years. That is no way for a young person to start their life. Deval Patrick, the Governor of Massachusetts, announced a program to help. If Massachusetts students go to their local community college and can maintain a 3.5 or better, then when they graduate, they can go to UMass Amherst tuition free and reduced room and board. Think about that for a moment. They still get the education. They graduate from University of Massachusetts, which is what appears on their resume. Yet the cost will end up being about half. Why can’t there be more programs like that? At least here in Massachusetts, we still believe in education.
According to the Institute of Economics and Peace, Global Peace Index which measures how peaceful each country is, the US ranks below China. Yes, China. China is 80th, we are 85. Is this how we want our country to be known? Or do we want to raise the US from the ashes and become the leaders in innovation, education, knowledge, and the ability to solve problems. Solve them, not by blowing them up, but by finding real solutions to real problems. In that ranking the UK is 31, Canada is 14. I challenge the US to rise up and move up the list and ahead of at least the UK. Wouldn’t you rather be known as a country of wise men and wizards than barbaric orcs?
I have a vision of the US becoming number one again. I would like us to start with education. Maybe one day, we will be number one at peace.
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.