I often, if not always, speak about perspective. Our perspective shapes everything we see, hear, feel, think, and therefor do. Our perspective is greatly dependent on the inputs we receive from our sense, especially from those sources we trust.
We have been conditioned to believe that the USA is the best, number one, top of the list. Our media tell us so. Some media outlets have even gone so far as to equate naïvely accepting this notion of USA superiority as our very patriotic duty. Should you question, your patriotism is held in question.
Yet, as I travel abroad, I increasingly see evidence that suggests we as a nation have lost our way. We are rapidly and seriously falling behind other nations on an ever growing list of measures. We are distracted by the least important. We place greater emphasis on just patching the mess in which we find ourselves and not committing to long term investments that will build a better future for our country.
Have we really become this selfish: we demand the good life, all of it. We want it now. We will sacrifice the future to have this moment?
Instead of investing in the infrastructures of the future, we chug along ever increasing our dependencies on the infrastructures of the past, like fossil fuels. Our national lifestyle has become an orgy of consumption, debt, stress, and ill health. In my mind, we continue to foolishly invest untold sums of money in the military which should be, by default, reactive to threats.
Why are we not proactive? Why are we not investing vast sums of money in the future through educating our children? Instead, we continue with a decades-old failed educational policy that has been over 30 years in the making. I just don't get it!
Only 33% (up to 40 depending on your source and definition of "degree") of Americans have a college degree. Increasing numbers of young people do not see any point in going heavily into debt to get a college degree as they see so many with (meaningless) degrees without jobs. The USA now ranks 12th in the world of degreed citizens. And, in most states, the percentage of our youngest Americans without a degree often exceeds 50%! (Source: College Board Advocacy & Policy Center - pdf)
Let me be clear: Unlike our politicians, I do not blame this on educators. This is a deeply cultural, economic, and political issue that has divested the majority of Americans from any semblance of the American Dream. This is the fault of failed leadership at the highest levels! Leadership matters! As long as our government sees the teacher in the classroom as lazy, incompetent, or a threat, then nothing will get better.
Instead of seeing serious efforts to fund a revolutionary educational policy that rewards the highest levels of academic and artistic achievement instead of focusing on labeling "failure" at every hand, that places education as the centerpiece of economic reform and stimulus, that makes college attainable, that rewards (culturally and economically) educators, that meets the fundamental needs of children (an enormous percentage of which live in poverty), that provides an emphasis on social justice and ethics as well as critical thinking that questions a government that is failing its people, I just see policy that is racing to the bottom to privatize and destroy the most essential aspect of democracy.
I try very hard to avoid partisan politics on this blog, but this isn't politics. This, citizens, is our livelihoods, our health, our well being, our retirement, our economy, our infrastructure, the very future of our country. It's past time to hold federal and state governments accountable for failed educational policy and inadequate educational funding. That reinventing and adequately funding educational policy hasn't been a top priority of this administration is scandalous!