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This, like all of the problems we need to deal with, is a very complex problem. There are no easy answers. What we can see is the result of our education debacle. Here is a link to the ranking of countries in test scores in reading, math, and science.
As you can see, the United States ranks on the bottom in reading, 27 out of 33 in math and 22 out of 33 in science. Take a look at some of the countries that our out performing the United States. Some of them our countries that we have considered far behind us in development. This is the result of our inability to teach our children and to give them a real chance for higher education.
I don’t have to tell you what the result of this will be. If you fall behind in education, you will ultimately fall behind in technology and innovation. All industries will suffer, including defense. We are about to put the rug out from under our stature in the world and we’re not used to being considered just another country.
So what are we going to do about it? Do we create some expanded federal department of education provide an even playing field for all of our children? I think I only have to say one word that will predict how well that will turn out and that word in Congress. The feds may be able to help but the can’t bail us out of this one.
We are only dealing with part of the problem. We have been focusing on access to higher education. It drives me totally crazy when I see someone asked where Brazil is and they have no idea. Our entire education system needs help and we’ll get back to that another time. For now the question is how do we get our kids access to meaningful education without saddling them with a crushing financial burden?
Like everything else, any solution to this problem will cost money. We cannot expect our government, at any level, to seriously to handle this problem alone unless we are willing to cough up a lot more in taxes. You can’t get blood out of a rock. Yean, yeah, I know the government wastes tons of money and we can debate that another time, but the fact is they don’t have a lot of money laying around to throw at this problem. If they do something, we’re going to pay for it.
We need to rethink this whole idea. Maybe we need an approach like what is used as a benefit in many companies. The companies will invest in an employees education if the employee signs a paper agreeing to work for them for a certain number of years. Companies could reach out to bright young men and women that can’t afford a college education and help them get their education in exchange for a work agreement. The young people could work for the company part-time while they’re going to school. They could get hands on training while they’re hitting the books. This would have to be done on a gigantic scale for it to make a difference. The government could give companies tax breaks for implementing such a program in a meaningful way. The company would get employees that were educated but also had their education seasoned to their liking by giving them the practical experience that suited their needs. The company would also have a workforce they could count on to be there. It would make their planning and projections easier.
I’m sure I’m being far too simplistic in my approach to this. If anyone has other ideas, let’s talk about it. Many many years ago I read a science fiction novel by Isaac Asimov called “Pebble in the Sky.” In the story we saw the world in the future and, in that future, Uruguay was complaining about having to sit next to a third rate country like the United States. That’s where were heading if we can’t educate our children.