In my last post, I touched on the idea of making sure that all U.S. citizens have the opportunity to receive a high quality, in terms of both depth and breadth, education. You will recall that this contention is rooted in my assertion that good decisions are more likely to be made by better educated people. And, without good decisions concerning how we run both our business and the greater society as a whole not to mention the other benefits of a well-education population, we can’t expect that future generations of Americans will continue to enjoy a rising standard of living.
Why is this the case? Here are a couple of reasons:
- Good jobs required skilled labor. Even today, people with the right skills can still make a good living. The issue is that a larger and larger percentage of our population do not have enough of the right That means that: 1) there labor can too easily be replaced (in part or in the whole) by automation or cheaper under-skilled (and less expensive) labor elsewhere. This leads to under-employment and a significant segment of our population who cannot make a decent wage.
- The better educated a person is, the better their ability to participate positively in our democracy (by actively participating and providing input), holding our elected officials accountable and making good voting decisions. Discussions about internationalization, the United States role in the world, ecology, health care require context that is more likely to be had by a person with a high quality liberal arts (i.e. not just technical, although that is critically important too—see previous bullet point) education.
Let me be clear. I am not calling for a homogeneous we all think one-way population. I believe that better education for all will promote diversity of thought and a willingness on the part of a better educated population to engage in meaningful dialog. So, my proposal would promote better discussion between those who have differing positions, and being between better informed participants the discussions would be more productive and therefore lead to better outcomes.
So, what do we do? We need to do several things:
- Figure out why we, in aggregate, get such a low return from the money we spend on education. This also mean understanding what places (both with the U.S. and outside of it) who are getting a good return on their investment are doing right.
- Then we need a plan. A truly revolutionary plan that will change the way we educate our children. And, I say this because incrementalism isn’t working. And, when you have a disaster: 1) Europe after WWII, 2) the US after the depression, you have to think differently and big (the Marshall Plan, the WPA) to get things going again.
- These first two things aren’t going to happen unless we make it clear to our elected officials that, to paraphrase from a favorite movie of mine: “we are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore”. This deal with our leaders forgetting how to lead is (more than) embarrassing and has led to a deadlock that is impeding necessary progress and is no longer acceptable.
More on this last idea of holding our elected officials accountable in my next post.