America's True Investment Advisors: Today's Bailouts May Be Vital, but, for Our Future's Sake, Congress Should Also Consider Investing in and Harnessing Educators on the Front Line
Robinson, Torrance, District Administration
AS OUR SCHOOLS FACE DRACONIAN budgets cuts, there are two critical ways in which Washington can help: by investing in our schools and by harnessing the insight and will of our educators.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in FY2009 and FY2010, 44 states face estimated budget shortfalls totaling $234 billion. Approximately one-third of that money, or $78 billion, was intended for education.
This is a lot of money. And the $700 billion bailout package (the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act) has gone to companies considered "too big to let fail." The proposed $850 billion stimulus package is focused on creating jobs. Although it may have an incidental effect on education budgets, it is not the direct investment that our schools need.
An Unequivocal Choice
So $78 billion, a mere 5 percent of the two currently proposed packages, is needed to stabilize our schools for FY2009 and FY2010. And unlike the money given to AIG ($80b), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac ($25b), and Bear Stearns and JP Morgan ($29b), this money would be an investment in our future, not a bailout. Washington needs to make an informed financial commitment to our schools today.
This investment is not optional. We know the critical impact that education has on our economy, equality and ability to compete on a global stage. In The Race between Education and Technology, Harvard professors Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz show that the "American Century" was the direct result of our investment in education over the last hundred years. Sadly, their analysis confirms that, since the 1970s, we have been on an educational attainment decline that is leading to a declining middle class, loss in productivity, and inability to compete with other nations. …