The final battle over the stimulus bill has commenced this week and we've taken to our corners. For many the golden stimulus ticket is jobs--green ones, blue ones, a veritable rainbow, really. I cannot disagree that job creation should be a focus of this bill. Part of the education infusion, in fact, is supposed to go to retaining teachers whose jobs are on the chopping block, a win for those of us in the education corner.
We are all ready to jump into the ring but we must proceed with caution. Instead of just patching crumbling state education budgets we can (and should) use the stimulus money to invest in real, proven solutions that have a chance of narrowing the achievement gap between poor and wealthy children (a gap that has been widening for 20 years). It’s obvious that educating out nation's children, all of them, is more of an investment than a quick employment solution. There are already over 13 million children living in poverty in America and as more children slip into poverty in these trying economic times, we must realize that wasting minds is an act that will keep more families in poverty and further harm our economic stability in the future. We are already losing the international education race. Imagine what will happen if we allow even more students to fall further behind.
Congress and President Obama have decided that salvation is in stimulus spending. If you’re listening, Dept. of Ed, heed this advice: Thou shalt not squander it.
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