Thursday, July 21, 2011

Notes on "A Plea for Education Reform for Governor Deval Patrick"

This was the first speech I wanted to write for this site, but I thought that the issue is so important that my first draft several months ago simply wasn't good enough.

A decline in our nation's public schools might not have caused the many problems we face now, but there's no question that today it's contributing to them. There's been a feedback loop taking place for at least two generations now between those not properly educated and politicians who cater to them, demonize "elitism", and further de-fund schools. Things have gotten so out of control in the past few years that now we don't just have politicians who are catering to these feelings- now we have the true believers in power. People whose policy positions are more a matter of belief and faith than research and applied logic. People who, if they were comforted by thinking the sky way green, could never be persuaded otherwise by any amount of facts you present them.

Poor education is why America has taken no action on global warming. The lack of financial knowledge and curiosity is partly to blame for the sub-prime crash (go ahead: ask a college freshman what an ARM is). It's why it was so easy to lead us into war with Iraq. It's the reason that on August 2nd the U.S. might face a debt default, causing a completely preventable global financial meltdown. To be a little more concise: it is not the reason we have disagreements in our politics, but it is ultimately the force keeping us from being able to agree on even the most basic of facts.

We need a big push for better education now. Like I say in the speech, education reform takes 15-20 years to make its impact. That's a long time to be paying in the hopes that one day you'll get your money's worth. But to lift a line from the President, "if not now, when?" It's better that we see results in 2031 than 2036 or 2041. And, assuming no pressure ever comes from the federal level to reform schools, it will take one or two states sticking their toes in the water and seeing results before the other states follow suit. We could be halfway through this century before the message gets through. Let's hope that we can hold out until then, because at this rate I'm not sure.

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