If you think the Mideast is the real threat to America as a great nation, you’ve been reading the wrong stories. Try reading about this nation’s miserable school system.
Apparently, Bill Gates has been doing some reading, and here’s what he tells the nation’s governors, according to The Washington Post:
“Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. …Until we design them to meet the needs of this century, we will keep limiting, even ruining, the lives of millions of Americans every year.”
The governors are attending their fifth education summit to discuss improving our lousy high schools. They are so bad that only 68 percent of ninth-graders graduate from high school on time, reports the Los Angeles Times. Only 18 percent of students go on to finish college within six years, reports the Post.
But the most telling statistic? Thirty percent of kids who enter high school don’t even finish, reports The New York Times. “When I compare our high schools with what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow,” Gates says.
The Microsoft founder has donated nearly a billion to American high schools since he founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He promises another $15 million to the National Governors Association, which would give the money to states that attempt to improve high schools.
I commend Gates, but it’s time America realizes that the educational system needs hundreds of billions of dollars – maybe trillions – for real improvement. I get tired of hearing leaders proclaim that schools need to become more efficient or productive.
What a load of horse hockey. While you might be able to squeeze a little more productivity out of already overworked, underpaid teachers and administrators, America needs new buildings and equipment. Efficiency gains do not pay construction costs. And salaries need to be permanently raised to attract motivated, additional talent.
The state of affairs also seems to scare the governors. “We can’t keep explaining to our nation’s parents or business leaders or college faculties why these kids can’t do the work,” Virginia Democratic Gov. Mark Warner tells The Associated Press via The Seattle Times.
The problem is already known and the time has come to do something about it, Warner tells the N.Y. Times. “The economic ramifications of that could be devastating to our country.”
Actually, I experienced this nation’s lousy educational system back in the 1970s. It sucked then, too. “Reform” has only made it worse. As much as I commend the governors for at least trying to do something, there has been no true reform. That will continue to be my contention until we spend as much on education as we do on wasteful wars in the Mideast.