Education and its importance

The fecklessness of some of the Republican representatives to the Congress and Republican Senators is hard to believe — they oppose the money allocated for education in the stimulus bill for the reason that money cannot buy good education.

Wrong!

According to the American Federation of Teacher’s website, the average salary of a public school teacher in 2006-2007 was $51,009 and it was the first time since 2003 that it surpassed the inflation rate. And  A University of Washington study had calculated that the recession would lead to cuts of 574,000 school jobs without a stimulus.

I am sorry, but with the finance industry “worker” wolfing in millions on the average as compensation — I bet you even the secretary at these institutions is paid more than $51,000 — and knowing what we all know about the $18.4B taxpayer paid bonuses in 2008, I cannot fathom what these so-called representatives of people are thinking? I rather that the teacher’s average salary rise up to $100,000 so the best and the brightest start becoming teachers than give these exorbitant Wall Street bonuses.

Nicholas Kristof wrote another fine piece titled, “Our Greatest National Shame,” in which he forcefully argues, like many others have, how education is the only way to build a sustainable growth-economy and quotes research that clearly points out that good teachers are much more important than small class size or good school.

He also writes, “One of last year’s smartest books was “The Race Between Education and Technology,” by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, both Harvard professors. They offer a wealth of evidence to argue that America became the world’s leading nation largely because of its emphasis on mass education at a time when other countries educated only elites (often, only male elites).”

The $100B in the stimulus bill for education is a must. The money will help preserve jobs, re-train and re-tool our teachers and help reform the education system.

As an immigrant post 1970, I had the opportunity to look from the outside in, and the benefits of an educated mass workforce were as obvious as daylight to me. But when I came to the USA, while I could see the fruits of labor of the past and current generations what was highly confusing and disorienting was the lack of high standards in the classroom and lackadaisical approach to education. Bit by bit what became clear was that students were more focused on immediate gratification made possible, ironically enough, by the labors of previous generations in the form of assortment of consumer goods, innumerable fun things to do and a general feeling of richness. It was also obvious that such an environment was not conducive for delayed gratitude, and the patience required for it.

While I am ready to stand on Wall Street and shout at the top of my lungs at each passing banker that I believe preserving 574,000 school jobs is any day more important for our economy than giving them even a single penny more in bonus, we all know that good teachers are one among many ingredients required to build an educated nation. Another most important activity is to change the culture of America from one of unbridled excesses and immense false confidence about the future to one which puts great emphasis on education and delayed gratitude.

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