Born in the U.S.A: Investing in our future

Devin Griggs
Opinion Editor

You don’t have to look far to read about the impending or ongoing crisis in education. Whether it’s primary, secondary or higher education, chances are there’s something going wrong somewhere. This is inevitably followed up with the condemnation of teachers for ‘allowing this to happen’.

School districts across the nation face tough decisions and tight budgets, but it can hardly be said that teachers are to blame for the plight of our schools. The blame for the state of our public school system lies with our public officials. They have continuasly cut education funding, raised tuition, ended job training programs and cut student loans and free school lunches for the poor.

Just this week, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said, “I have very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with $200,000 in debt.”

Foxx’s comments came in light of a Congressional debate on the issue of federal student loans, which will cost more for students if Congress fails to pass an extension of the current interest rate.

Even if Congress passes an extension of current interest rates, the budget debate will make it almost meaningless if U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget is signed into law. The Ryan budget cuts funding for education, training, employment, and social services by a whopping 33 percent according to The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. Can we cut our way to a good education?

The historical record shows us that those nations who have invested in their own people have been the most successful. We aren’t strangers to investing in education.

In 1944, President Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill, allowing veterans to go to college virtually free-of-charge. In 1958, Sputnik led to a greater emphasis on mathematics and science education in the National Defense Education Act. In 1965, as a part of Lyndon Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’, Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Allow me to make a proposal for the future of American education – from preschool forward, it should be made completely free. The federal government should pick up the tab, ending a patchwork system of property tax funding that produces unequal outcomes.

The federal government should also recognize that we can’t have a country where everyone has a Ph.D, but no one knows how to fix a car or rig wires — and vocational schools should also be made tuition-free.

It’s only unrealistic if you’re not making it a reality. The only way to make it happen is to get involved.