It’s education, stupid: revolutionized education is our only hope

If you haven’t noticed, we are in a recession that may well lead to a full-on depression. Yeah, I said it: depression. No jobs, soup lines, the erosion of American economic power. Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, then, should be considered a hero for refusing stimulus money in hard economic times. According to a recent article on Politico.com, Palin refused 170 million dollars in funding for education. Her reason was, and I quote, “our nation is already over $11 trillion in debt; we can’t keep digging this hole.” I assuming the semicolon was the work of an editor.but I digress. Regardless, her defenders argue that Alaska already has sufficient funding for education. It should be noted that Palin accepted stimulus money for roads and transportation, and other “capitol programs.”

Sufficient funding for education? Really?

In 2007, government researchers conducted a study known as the “Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study,” or “TIMSS.” American fourth graders ranked 8th in the world, and 8th graders ranked 11th.

So what?

As our government enacts ridiculous legislation like “No Child Left Behind,” all American children are being left behind on a global scale. Thus, our workforce is rapidly becoming obsolete. These rankings (8th and 11th) may not be abysmal, but I’ve lost any confidence in our state, local, or, even national government’s desire to correct the problem.

Allowing school prayer and teaching Creationism. What do these issues have in common? They are ways “social conservatives” distract our voting populous from the big picture, which we can no longer afford.

I’m sick of hearing arguments for school prayers when it seems our schools don’t have a prayer. I’m not going to win many friends by saying this, but the gravity of the situation warrants a wake-up call: I support people’s religious beliefs, but to suggest that fighting for debatably necessary rights (like school prayer) by Christian interest groups should come before a fight to improve our school system and the amount of teachers we produce and employ fatal logic.

Forget school prayer.how about the fight to force schools to teach Creationism along side evolution? This kind of ludicrous struggle-fighting for debunked, crackpot science-can lead to further plummeting in our international rankings concerning science education.

Of course, many outspoken conservatives and Republicans denounce the severity of this situation. On Nashville’s popular 99.7 talk radio station, many of the hosts claim that they and their listeners are not participating in the recession. Evidently, they aren’t participating in reality, either. And, in the ethereal realm of supporting only traditional Christian values these people operate in, improved education clearly doesn’t have a place.

Everyone knows that Tennessee and other southern states have a poor education ranking compared to other parts of the country. People joke about this, but they fail to see the ramifications. As Tennesseans, why do we stand by and accept our low rank amongst other states when our entire, national educational system is becoming a joke?

Recent budget crisis on a state and local level reveal the import of this situation. In Putnam County, for example, rumor has it that all non-tenured teachers are at risk of losing their jobs next year. This may be speculation, but my sources are well informed and work closely with the local board of education.

This sort of wholesale firing procedure is occurring in many other places. Firing non-tenure teachers means firing new teachers (including math and science teachers!). If new teachers can’t hold a job, why would college students continue to earn teaching certificates? If we continue to persecute our teachers, we are doomed.

Yet, these conservative talk-show hosts and politicians seem to think that government spending will dig us too deep into debt. I suppose they recommend, instead, that we all grab shovels and start digging for oil in our back yards, or just digging ditches, or something equally, mock-heroically absurd. I’m not trying to rail against blue-collar laborers.but we have to depend on the educated, the intelligentsia, so to speak, to pull us out of this thing. We desperately need scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, and someone has to teach them.

Opponents to Barack Obama and his stimulus plan love to throw out lines like “putting our children and grand-children in to debt.” Who cares about that debt if the next generation of American workers in the technological and scientific fields could barely compete with their counterparts in the third world? Even without the debt, we wouldn’t be able to make any substantial revenue.which ends in the same way: economic collapse.

With the unprecedented technological advancements of the last thirty or so years, any rational person should be able to deduce that strengthening our math and science education will increase the amount of competitive American scientists and engineers. What else, in the current international economic climate, can Americans really market? Pop stars?

Want proof that developing and capitalizing on technological advancements has a direct corollary in national economic strength? Several Asian countries-which scored the highest on the TIMSS-are beginning to dominate the world’s economy. It is well known fact that China is currently bankrolling our government. Think about it.

Now that I’ve outlined some of the problems, I’ll discuss solutions to our educational crisis in columns to come.

See you next time.