Although we invest heavily in our education system, American kids are ranked far below other nations when it comes to math, reading and basic science.
Out of 34 countries, the US currently ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. 1
In a world that's increasingly "flat," where technology creates a real world marketplace for talent, this is a recipe for disaster.
Education in general, and teachers in particular have been targeted as prime candidates for cuts when it comes to budget policy - after all, kids can't vote. But this blind economic policy of "cut now and let the future take care of itself" is profoundly unwise, and we're seeing it now as our graduating students find it more and more difficult to compete with workers overseas.
According to a recent article in The Seattle Times, by 2018 two-thirds of all jobs in Washington State will require some sort of post-secondary education. The consequences are clear: as good-paying jobs become increasingly scarce, these short-sighted policies affect all of us in dragging down our economy, increasing crime and putting ever more strain on our social services. We cannot continue to export our jobs and our college students to other states and then somehow hope that either of them will return.
Rather than lay off thousands of teachers (and slowing economic recovery) we need to find creative, innovative and economical solutions to retain classroom teachers and lower class sizes - and muster the political will to push them through. The situation is critical, especially in K-3 classrooms.
We also need to fund early childhood education, so that every child starts first grade ready to learn. We all have to go beyond mere “finger pointing” and turf wars; we need to create a platform where all parties sit and come up with solutions to secure our future... our KIDS!