It is spring which means pollen is in the air. It also means that budget pens in statehouses are out. The red ink flows as lawmakers find creative ways to cut education in their states to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. What will it be this round? A loss of pensions for a few percentage points on property tax? Maybe eliminating funding for fine arts to ensure that multi-billion dollar corporations can shelter more income from that tax abatement? After all, according to lawmakers in Austin, Frankfort, Oklahoma City, and every state in the union agrees on one thing.
Education is not a priority to their agenda.
I wish I could say that this is a Republican problem. Cast the stones at the GOP for their hatred of public education. After all, Texas Lieutenant Governor said once, “I will not believe education in Texas is no its last legs till schools fire their last coach.”
“I will not believe education in Texas is no its last legs till schools fire their last coach.”
Dan Patrick, Texas Lieutenant Governor
It is a disease on the left as well. Democratic lawmakers are just as quick to use poison pens on education budgets.
Most telling, mistrust of teachers and educators is without a doubt, bi-partisan.
Education is our future
The idea that education stands as the cornerstone of a growing and prosperous society is not new. People in power understood from the beginning of recorded history that knowledge was power. In ancient Egypt, the priests were considered sacrosanct because they alone could record the annuals of the Pharoah for all time. The philosophers of Ancient Greece taught their young to be thinkers.
Socrates in creating a whole new idea of thought, the Socratic method, the idea that questioning and reasoning was in itself a noble virtue paid for that with his life. That was when leaders started to realize that education could be a danger to power.
Fast forward through Rome, through the Dark Ages, the Golden Age of Islam, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and finally we reach the American Revolution.
Men who built themselves taught themselves, launched themselves. Men of the American Renaissance.
Thomas Jefferson. John Adams. Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Paine. George Washington. James Madison
Men of Vision. They built a nation.
Most of all they saw the importance of education.
And with that, from 1776 until today, technology has made the most astounding leaps.
It was not just freedom of government that caused it, it was education. Freedom of the mind that only comes with a mind that is educated.
A mind that is free, yet uneducated is chained with the worst of shackles.
And modern politicians know this.
Educated Citizens Question
Look around you. Look again.
We are a nation governed by people who decided what the facts are based on memes. Quotes of dubious origin placed on pictures of founding fathers. We cherry pick historical and biblical fact and that determines how we vote and who we vote for.
America is now the land of the Magic 8 Ball.
And its Teachers have become the enemies of the state.
In a land where you want to custom fit education to fit your political and religious dogma, you do not want men and women who will teach your children to question that Republican Jesus rode a Velociraptor into Yorktown with an M16 in one hand the Constitution in the other and single-handedly beat the Redcoats.
You want an education that one day allows docile little corporate drones to kindly accept whatever “fact” the established order hands out.
Education must be our 8th, 9th, 10th wonder of the World
Our schools need to be the monuments of our time. No matter how elaborate we build any other structure, no matter how much effort we put into hospitals, corporate headquarters, whatever, schools should outpace them. They should be designed to challenge students, to inspire students to make students want to learn. Teachers should be the highest paid, most valued, most rewarded in their profession. The best doctors, engineers, software developers, the best of their fields after they have reached the heights of their career, be rewarded to teach the next generation.
It should be an honor to teach. They should be making more than professional athletes.
A child in an inner-city school that a lawmaker just voting to take funding away from this week, might have in her mind the cure for cancer locked away in it. That 200 million dollar tax cut you bought with that budget cut just killed millions. Feel proud?
That arts budget you just slashed? There goes the only outlet that an 11-year-old had in Chicago. Now he will be lured into a gang lifestyle. But hey, you get to save $25 bucks a year on your taxes.
Education is the ONLY, I mean the only true budget area that pays back in dividends that can be multiplied in the billions.
And the sooner we realize that and start investing in the creativity of our teachers and students, the faster our nation truly becomes “great again.”