Missed Opportunity: Funding our Future

Republican candidates debate national security issues at CNN debate in Washington, D.C. on November 22, 2011.

In CNN’s Republican debate on national security issues, there was a point where issues of immigration and education came into the discussion. The latest entrant to the frontrunner spot slightly ahead of Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, said the U.S. should have a visa attached to every math and science degree to assure foreign graduates stay. While this is a nice sentiment, it brings up the question of how the Republicans as well as the rest of the political establishment in the United States really feels about education.

In a time where the United States Department of Education, State Legislatures and other entities ask for more and more “verification” of the “benefits” of spending on education from schools not just on a K-12 basis but on a birth through college basis, it is interesting to see potential presidential candidates discussing the benefits of retaining foreign college graduates as a benefit to the economy. Legislators on the National, State and Local levels; many of them Republicans and self-proclaimed conservatives, have continued to make attainment of a college education harder and harder for American children and young adult who’s only crime is being born to families without means in a time of economic decline.

The United States has always benefitted from the talents of people who have come here from beyond its borders for opportunity. Those opportunities could have been in the area of education or careers. In any case, there are times when folks come here for those opportunities and decide to stay. Surely, those with talents and the desire to stay to continue building a better America should be encouraged to stay and do so. But, there also needs to be a major emphasis placed on making the attainment of higher education and post-secondary education/training easier and not harder.

Instead of spending time in legislative bodies questioning the time-tested tactics of professional educators at legitimate institutions, efforts should be placed on making the job of educating our young people a valued priority. The time and effort expended in questioning educators cost money. Money that is much needed for enhancing education at all levels.

Instead of making cuts to financial aid and other funding for education on all levels, investments need to be made in the future. This is a missed opportunity. Whenever the world finally starts to climb out of this worldwide economic downturn, The United States should want highly skilled, highly trained and highly motivated young people populating the new workforce. It is not in the best interest of the country or any so-called business-minded politicians to have a workforce lacking education, skills or motivation.

There should always be discussions on both sides of the aisle on retaining talented people who want to stay and work towards a stronger country, but there should also be frank discussions of funding the future. Someone in the political realm needs to have the confidence to speak up and clearly state how important access of quality education is to the future of this nation. People who want to provide opportunities for the upcoming generations should be encouraged and supported, not questioned and sabotaged at every turn. This is an issue that will surely be visited from many angles on this blog and in many other locations throughout the election cycle. Hopefully the candidates find time to discuss it.

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