Transcript: Wise Words - Making Education a Priority in Every Political Campaign
Hi, I’m Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of the state of West Virginia. Now, last month was the Olympics; today we are in the midst of an election season. And watching the recent Democratic and Republican national conventions, we saw the presidential nominees present their campaign platforms to the world.
Last time, I talked about five things that presidential candidates could do to ensure that all students are prepared for college or the modern workplace, and you can find that list on the Alliance for Excellent Education’s website. But now that the presidential conventions are over, we need to focus on the other federal races in November—the United States Congress—when all 435 House seats are up and one third of the Senate are up for election.
This report, Dropouts, Diplomas, and Dollars, which we sent this week to everyone running for Congress, helps all candidates and the public understand the economic impact if education policies aren’t changed to support schools and their students. Education affects every person in this country—young or old, rich or poor; whether or not they have a child in the public school system. In too many of our nation’s middle and high schools, we have a crisis. Improving our educational system is a national priority; it requires a national response—and those elected to federal office in the upcoming races must be committed to pushing for change, the change that supports states and school districts so that every child graduates from high school ready for college or the modern workplace.
Education, unfortunately, is not high enough on many politicians’ radar screens, although polls do show voters consider it a top concern. And education is directly linked to another top concern—the economy. If the dropout rate were simply cut in half over the next several years, it would bring in an additional $45 billion a year—that’s right, $45 billion a year—in federal revenues and cost savings and it would create millions of high-wage earners. Now let’s make sure we understand this—new tax dollars being generated, federal cost savings, and billions of dollars in new wages. What isn’t there to support here? All our Congressional candidates need to know that the best economic stimulus package is a diploma.
Also, our students must be fully prepared for the intense international competition that’s going to be waiting for them in the workplace. Today, 90 percent of the fastest-growing jobs—and 60 percent of all jobs—require some college education. Our Congressional candidates must also talk about what they will do to lift our nation’s fifteen-year-olds from being twenty-first in science and twenty-fifth in math in international competition.
From the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act to determining the federal budget for the U.S. Department of Education, the Congress is going to play a large role in the fight to save America’s high schools from a crisis that sees over one million students a year fail to graduate.
Dropouts, Diplomas, and Dollars—download your copy today from the Alliance for Excellent Education’s website. And then let’s make sure that our presidential candidates and our Congressional candidates understand that the key to a strong economy is a quality education.