Economic turmoil reminds us: Education is key to prosperity

I recently read with great interest The Hill’s Special Report on Education (Sept. 17). Given the state of the economy and the many discussions on our fiscal situation by the media, members of Congress and the general public, this was an especially refreshing set of articles by lawmakers. Perhaps if more attention were given to education by all we would have avoided the fiscal crisis our country is facing and the enormous tab the taxpayers may be saddled with because of Wall Street.

It is true that in order to understand a nation’s priorities, you only need to examine its budget. Education unfortunately makes up only a fraction of the federal budget. If education is made an actual national priority rather than simply paid lip service, our economy will thrive and so will all aspects of our lives.

In Rep. George Miller’s (D-Calif.) article, “It starts with early-childhood funding,” he states: “We also know that investments made in early childhood yield impressive returns. Studies have found that spending $1 today on early childhood can lead to savings of $1.25 to $17 down the line.” Maybe it could save $700 billion in a federal bailout? …

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) addressed the issue of accountability in his article, “Schools not solely responsible for ills.” In this time of increased accountability and punitive sanctions, the members of AFSA welcome Sen. Sanders’s remarks. … You can threaten schools with sanctions if they do not make adequate yearly progress (AYP), but if students do not come to school ready to learn, then we are punishing them by not targeting our resources where they are most needed.

We must place a new emphasis on the importance of education. AFSA is the national union for education leaders, and we have been vocal in our support of increasing the federal investment in education, for expanding parents’ access to affordable, high-quality day care and preschool, as well as a greater investment in critical programs like Head Start, Early Head Start and early intervention services for children with disabilities. Furthermore, schools and districts must be given linkages to social workers and bilingual staff.  They need to be able to collaborate with community health-based organizations and immigration services to build parent involvement and assist parents to readily and easily partner with schools to support their children’s academic progress. Schools and the education professionals that lead them cannot alone be held accountable for the success of all students, especially when not all students are given a fair opportunity from the start. …


Please, Congress, don’t protect me

From Marilynn Puskas

An open letter to Congress:

While I sincerely appreciate that you want compromise so that I can keep my home, I think that you must also question what will happen if any bailout of the market is allowed to proceed.

The borrowing/printing of all these billions is sure to devalue the dollar even further than it already has been (in great part because of previous monetary injections into the financial system over the past year or so) and prompt an upward inflationary spiral that will mostly impact the poor and the middle class.

Having our houses will be less of a comfort if we cannot afford to heat them or put food on our tables.

In less than a decade you have deemed that I be protected by allowing a preemptive war in Iraq, a wild goose chase in Afghanistan, and the passage of various legislation that curtails my rights as an American citizen.

You have also spent my money like drunken sailors on wasteful Defense Department contracts, and a laughable Homeland Security Department (just to name two) while allowing decades worth of expensive infrastructure to erode even as you allowed the blowing-up and rebuilding of the same in other countries. You have allowed jobs and manufacturing to leave the country while you were subsidizing and giving tax breaks to these companies.

Truth be told — I’m just totally tapped out. Please don’t protect me with this financial market bailout.