Friday, October 9, 2009

Paul Krugman thinks we’re uneducated. I happen to agree.

An article appeared in the NYT today that really raised my ire. Not because I disagreed with it, but because every word rang true.

Paul Krugman’s piece, The Uneducated American, hit the nail on the head on every count - leaving behind a very bent and rusty nail indeed.

In a nutshell: “... The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.

Until now, the results of educational neglect have been gradual — a slow-motion erosion of America’s relative position. But things are about to get much worse, as the economic crisis — its effects exacerbated by the penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior that passes for “fiscal responsibility” in Washington — deals a severe blow to education across the board.”

The cost of education is prohibiting many of the finer young thinkers in our culture from obtaining a degree, being forced back into the full-time workforce before they are able to complete their education - and still end up in debt, liable for daunting school loans as they begin their path into the adult world.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States economy lost 273,000 jobs last month. Of those lost jobs, 29,000 were in state and local education, bringing the total losses in that category over the past five months to 143,000.”

This - at a time when we claim to be dedicating to change? We’re losing educators by the thousands? A sagging economy is no excuse to stop teaching our children. They are our future people!

Krugman’s recommendation to alleviate the problem is that congress should offer aid to the state governments, and: “Beyond that, we need to wake up and realize that one of the keys to our nation’s historic success is now a wasting asset. Education made America great; neglect of education can reverse the process.”

Thank heavens for organizations like the Kauffman Foundation and NFTE (The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) who are devoted to educating kids who otherwise would “be left behind”. While NFTE teaches important business and entrepreneurship skills, it also encourages continued education and believes that every child should be given the opportunity to fulfill his or her potential.

Life should be about choices – not just alternatives, compromises or settling for less than we have.

Education provides a solid pathway to being able to make choices in life – not having them made for us.

Isn’t that the change we are looking for?

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