If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
—Derek Bok, educator and former president of Harvard University
American education is in crisis. And public schools, especially those populated by black and brown children in urban communities, are bearing the brunt of the devastation. Our government and political leaders know this. Our corporate CEOs and business leaders know this. Our teachers know this. And increasingly, students and their parents know this, especially once they enter the job market after graduation, assuming they did not drop out before earning their diploma.
Everyone knows that the K–12 public education system is failing our children. Everyone agrees that education reform is not only desperately needed, but critical to both the economic competitiveness and security of America. We know that the foundation and fuel of American innovation and achievement is a quality education, which leads to opportunity, earning potential, healthier communities, and a stronger nation. And every parent, regardless of race, nationality, or economic status, wants their child to have the best possible education.
Yet, no one wants to do what it takes to make the changes necessary for America to reclaim its position as the best educated nation in the world. No one seems willing to lay it on the line to eliminate race, economic status, and zip codes as determining factors in which American children attend well-funded and equipped schools with the best teachers, and which are sentenced to dilapidated, poorly funded schools with overmatched, underpaid, and mediocre teachers. It boils down to this: It’s long past time that we recognize that the investment required to really fix American public education is being dwarfed by the huge and rapidly escalating costs of not fixing it.
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