This, We Believe #5:
An inclusive economy – and an inclusive society – is built on the skills of its people. For this reason, education is the best public investment we can make in the future success of our children.
For generations, the United States showed the world that education is one of the surest paths by which individuals achieve greater opportunity for themselves and for their children. It one of the pillars upon which a growing, inclusive and more upwardly mobile middle class is built.
In fact, no generation of Americans ever gave their kids a better future by giving them a lesser education.
But even as developing nations around the world are adopting our formula for success, we seem to have forgotten it. (see Tom Friedman’s book, “That Used to Be Us”…)
We know what works to improve public education. Among the goods we purchase with these investments are: universal pre-kindergarten; raising teacher pay and improving professional development; adopting a new, higher, and better core curriculum so that our children will have the skills they need to compete and win in a global economy; equipping our children with career and technical skills for today’s economy — by the time they graduate from high school; and, making college a debt-free option for every family. (See Ted Dintersmith’s new book, “What School Could Be”…)
But these things won’t happen by themselves. They require public investments we are capable of making. And they are public investments we are more than capable of making.
In the midst of the Great Recession, my own state — Maryland — invested more in education, not less. While most states cut back on education funding, we increased education funding by 37%.
For the first time, Maryland’s Public Schools were ranked the best in the nation for five years in a row; Maryland students also led the nation in AP success for seven years in a row. And did a better job than any state in holding down the cost of college tuition — not by wishing or hoping it so, but by making it so.
What’s more, all of these investments — and the better results they achieved — were good for our economy in the here and now.
We recovered 100% of the jobs that were lost during the Recession — and we did so with a faster rate of job creation than our neighboring states. Not only did we defend the highest median household income in the country, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named us the number-one state for innovation and entrepreneurship for three years in a row.
Progress is a choice. Whether our children are loser or winners in this changing economy is up to us.
This, We Believe.