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Tamara | March 13, 2012

Hit Pause and Reset


By Tamara

I read somewhere (probably the NYT) recently that the "Great Recession" we are experiencing and the attending income equity gap are leading us to toward both a cultural and economic "Reset". Essentially we will hit bottom both culturally and economically and then collectively decide how we are going to redefine our values and norms as a culture and society.

I think what we see happening in the two-pronged debate regarding education reform and education funding is the canary in the coal mine. We want the the best we can get for the least possible cost. Maybe that can work for consumable goods or even in some cases cars and homes. But when you apply that principle to people, you only get diminishing returns. The product from the education system is people. Ideally, smart people, skilled people. People with both the ability and mores to go out and contribute to pulling our society out of our collective mess.

I was raised to understand that my education is the one and only investment no one can ever take away from me. What do you think legislature? Are you ready to hit pause and reset in the special session and make a lasting investment to benefit us all?


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tim-10-ber: No one here is advocating for more money to be thrown blindly into education. As a tax payer I want to KNOW not just hope wise investments are being made in the best, most qualified teachers and programs/curriculum that have proven locally over time (as in five school years or more, rather than "hey! this was tried for a Texas")to impart significant skill gain in students.
I agree with Mark-Education is even more of a beast if you starve it. At the same time, as a parent and a taxpayer, I would like to see more accountability for our investment.

Tim-10-ber... perhaps the reason that we have neither the best healthcare nor the best education system is that we've never actually invested enough to get it to a functioning level of efficiency that is then sustainable with less funding.

Call it reform or reconfiguring, it is going to cost money to do it right.

I see investing in education like investing in my retirement. I started putting in 10% of may paycheck when I was 23 years old. The paycheck of a teacher at that age is not much, so things were tight and I chose to spend money for which I would see no benefit for over 30 years. But, I chose to make an initial investment and will reap the benefits in the end even though it only pains me now. We need to start treating education the same way. That kindergartner we start investing in now will not be in the workforce for almost two decades, but if we invest better now and on an ongoing basis for that kindergartner's whole education, we will see a better return.

If I start out investing 3% of my paycheck in my retirement at age 23, simply because I don't see the immediate benefit, then even if I start to invest 10% at age 38, I will never see the kind of outcome that I could have had from the seemingly-painful initial investment 15 years ago. I'd have to aim for 16-20% investment (actually more) at that point to get myself up to the level (including interest) that I would have had if I had made a wiser earlier investment. The same is true for education. We invest now, even if it pains our budget, and down the road we will (1) not have the added economic and social services costs of making up for an uneducated populace and (2) have a model that is sustainable because we've learned to manage by funding completely from the get-go, even if it seemed tough at first.

Unfortunately, taxpayers and policymakers are not willing to sacrifice now for a benefit that is half-a-generation in coming.


I would like to ask the question another way...we spend more for healthcare and education yet we have neither the best healthcare system nor education system in the world. I would say we are not getting our moneys worth and throwing more money at either system is not the answer. I believe we need to look at the systems and what we need and reconfigure both to get what we need in order to be the best...

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