The United States is not doing so well when it comes to the state of education — in terms of world ranking, it is absolutely abysmal — barely scoring 500 out of 1000 points in such crucial subjects as math, reading, and science. You would therefore think that in this election year, candidates and the current President up for re-election would have at least some focus on education, stressing what they are planning on doing to fix our badly ailing school systems and to bring the students in the United States to a higher level of educational accomplishment.
The president and his two most prominent Republican challengers each have some unique ideas for schools, but by and large they support the test-driven, school-rating, pro-charter-school policy that has ruled the United States for more than a decade, no matter which party controlled the presidency or Congress.
I believe that there is a reason for this apathy toward education in the United States from the presidential candidates, and unfortunately it seems to stem from an apathy from the American people about the quality of education. The candidates for President are, after all, most interested in presenting subject matter that will appeal to the viewing audience — and if the viewing audience is more interested in hearing about how jobs are going to be created under their administration, that is exactly what they will be discussing. Is it any surprise that the state of education is going so poorly when this country is more passionate about buying weapons than teaching children?
Literacy, technology, and scholarships are all being slashed this year. The number of Pell grants low income students can receive has been reduced from two to one, and essential AmeriCorps programs like Teach For America, the National Writing Project, and City Year have been defunded. Federal stimulus money to help cash-strapped state governments funnel money to schools has dried up. As a result, states hit by the economic downturn continue to cut billions from education.
There are about ten months that remain before the Presidential elections and it is not too late, I believe, to tell the presidential candidates where your priorities lay — and if you are as passionate about the education of the children of the United States, you will do what I am doing and writing to the candidates to tell them exactly that. Do not let them believe that education can just fall by the wayside or that jobs will just materialize without a good education to back them. Write to your preferred candidate today and stress the importance of education in the value system of this country.