Our children are the most valuable resource we have. There is nothing — NOTHING — more important than protecting them and making sure they get the best education possible.
The best hope for our future is to create a culture of accomplishment in our schools that equals the optimism and ambition of this nation. We must create a learning environment that encourages children to succeed and convinces every child that success is even possible — a place that makes us believe again.
At a time when many of our children’s futures are in jeopardy, our politicians treat their primary lifeline as a political football, tossing the challenges of education policy around like they are holding explosive dynamite. Republicans literally choke at the faintest hint of anything remotely resembling a social safety net, while Democrats would never dream of compromising their own personal ATM machine, otherwise known as the teachers unions (the political donations by teachers unions increased from $4.3 million in 2004 to $32 million within twelve years, with 94 percent of the money routinely going to Democrats).
Some people say that the federal government should stay out of education policy altogether, and we are in complete agreement that, in a perfect world, the federal government’s role in American education would be very limited, if not completely absent. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.
The Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Therefore, in a perfect world, education policy would largely be decided at the state and local levels. Communities and their respective states would be responsible for establishing schools, developing curricula, and determining requirements for enrollment and graduation.
In the spirit of the Tenth Amendment, our belief is that any federal funds appropriated for education should only be allocated for programs that:
Provide for the “general welfare” of the United States, in accordance with Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.
Ensure “equal protection of the laws” as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Tragically, the general welfare of many of our children and their equal protection guarantee are being infringed upon by terribly inadequate education. If you really think about it, in a much broader sense, the general welfare of the entire United States relies heavily on properly educated citizens so, essentially, we’re all getting screwed by this.
So, like it or not, we have no choice but for the federal government to step in and demand improvement. We fully recognize the federal government’s track record regarding education has been abysmal, to say the least. But it doesn’t have to be. Read on!
Even though the federal government needs to be involved on some level, we must unequivocally insist that the politicizing of American education is no longer tolerated in any fashion. It is abundantly clear that education reform must be achieved outside of political maneuvering and entrenched bureaucracy. The arsenic of politics is never more apparent than with academic policy, which is deeply troubling given that the stakes are never higher and the victims never more helpless. Through our chronic indifference and inaction as a nation, we have allowed our children to be sacrificed on the altar of selfish greed.
We must do something and fast! Quite frankly, it’s outrageous we have let this go on for as long as we have.
As we discuss education reform, it’s important we all see the big picture as opposed to simply looking out of our own individual windows. You may not recognize your experience or your child’s experience in these words, and we genuinely hope you don’t. But believe us when we say that far too many people do.
Demanding excellence in education is not only our moral obligation as a great nation; it’s also a critical component of the United States’ business model. The negative financial impact of our failed educational system becomes more ominous every year. Even though it’s a few years old, McKinsey & Company’s report called The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools is a cautionary tale for the ages (and is certainly as relevant today, if not more so, as the day it was released). Read the report here.
If the United States had in recent years closed the gap between its educational achievement levels and those of better-performing nations such as Finland and Korea, our gross domestic product (GDP) in 2008 could have been $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion higher. This represents 9 to 16 percent of GDP.
If the gap between Black and Latino student performance and White student performance had been similarly narrowed, GDP in 2008 would have been between $310 billion and $525 billion higher, or 2 to 4 percent of GDP. The magnitude of this impact will rise in the years ahead as demographic shifts result in Blacks and Latinos becoming a larger proportion of the population and workforce.
If the gap between low-income students and the rest had been similarly narrowed, GDP in 2008 would have been $400 billion to $670 billion higher or 3 to 5 percent of GDP.