Value of Education
When budget cuts begin to hurt students and children it is time to stop and rethink our priorities as a community and as a society of a civilization that takes pride in decisions based on data and science, not on emotions and fears.
We need to contemplate the ramifications of our actions today because they will greatly impact our community’s and society’s future.
The current budget crisis affecting the Nome Public Schools and other school districts in Alaska is a wake up call for all of us. A proper capitalist argument would be that we are growing our future work force, but I refuse to consider that human beings are put on this earth to be parts of the economic engine that keeps this world turning around. Gathering knowledge and becoming a fully-rounded person through education is, in my opinion, an requisite for a free and happy society beyond free-market considerations.
If a community decides that education is not a priority then this decision needs to be put in context of the foreseeable future for us. If education is not a priority during hard times, then we do not invest in the possibility to get out of the economic slump that we find ourselves in today. We set us up for failure down the road because we fail now to invest in students’ ability to learn how to learn, to accumulate knowledge, to develop methodologies that allow them to succeed in college or as apprentices in a work place.
In February, the PEW Research Center released data from international math and science assessments, which indicate that U.S. students continue to rank around the middle of the pack, and behind many other advanced industrial nations. According to the most recent cross-national test from 2015, the U.S. placed an 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. So, we have ways to go and cutting education budgets state and nation-wide is not going to set us on the path for greatness.
Being equipped with knowledge helps a person to become the master of his or her own destiny. The confidence that knowledge brings, puts one in a frame of mind that does not act out of fear or want, but gives one the ability to put things in context. If we allow anxiety to rule our school districts, where teachers don’t know if they still have a job tomorrow, where administrators have to cut programs they know are beneficial to kids, then we need to do some serious soul searching and see if we are prepared to reap the fruits that we sow today. — D.H.—