Many years ago, I used to joke that we had the best defense policy in the world. By continuing to cut back on our education spending, we would eventually create a country with a large, uneducated population that no other country would want.
Sadly, I'm not sure we're doing much better today. Here in NJ, we're about to see funding to school districts slashed and many programs cut back or cut completely. We're very fortunate that Sydney attends the Montclair Kimberley Academy and gets an excellent education. Last year, in the 2nd grade, she was taught to make podcasts and edit in iMovie. All students in pre-K to 3rd grade take dance. They're taught a foreign language, Sydney's been learning French and she has an excellent ear for language.
But most other students in the state aren't so fortunate. And I'm guessing that most students in other states aren't that fortunate either. As states get deeper and deeper into their own budget issues, education continues to get short-changed. We're cutting our future to save a few dollars today.
Higher education isn't always better. Has drinks with Simon Kavanagh of KAOSPilot and just love what they're doing in Denmark. They're really turning higher education upside down and seeing excellent results. Of course, I've been a huge fan of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center since before it was an official program and they too are recreating the education process. BTW, for a great read about how the ETC came about, make sure you read The Comet & the Tornado, by Donald Marinelli.
There's lots of discussions about how to fix education and I'm not sure anyone has the right answer yet. It's a complicated situation, but certainly, our economic systems shows how we, as a country, feel about education of our children. And without a doubt, the education system itself needs to be open to change, which it usually is not. It's not just a matter of adding more money, it's understanding the importance of education and putting the students first.
One crazy idea that I had is that maybe we should view our elementary education more like an incubator of sorts. Students can opt-in to be part of the system and then let's say the school gets 1% of any company that student should start in the future. Think of what the schools of people like Bill Gates and Sergey Brin would've been able to do with 1% of Microsoft or Google. Of how about those 25 hedge-fund managers. Surely giving up 1% wouldn't be a big deal for them, but it could mean a whole lot to their schools. I don't know how it would be administered or tracked, but it's because of their education that most people become the successes they become.
So maybe there are readers of my blog who know how to make this work. Maybe it's too radical of an idea, but I know that incremental changes to are education system will not save it in the future.