The conversation is no longer about what the Democrats want versus what the Republicans want, rather, what our priorities must be. Among the big iterms, economy, environment, and education, how do we balance the plate and move ahead; what will drive our economy may not be good for our environment, may have only short term gains because we do not have a prepared work force. Our challenge will be to gain maximum perspective,to understand how everything is interrelated.
In education, the lack of money from local taxes will directly affect funding for schools. Families' instabilities and anxieties will contribute to school readiness. The inability of a city to maintain and protect the health and welfare of its citizens will directly affect the mental health and the civic adaptations necessary to live in an orderly society. Gangs and civil disobedience will grow both in the streets and in schools. Educators will have fewer tools, and fewer opportunities to enrich children's lives. Did we think the urban schools were the ones having difficulties? Now all schools will.
When the economy is good, and parents have jobs, whether they believe in early childhood education or not, they will deposit the child in a pre-school. There, the child will be challenged, nurtured and socialized. He may even get his first toothbrush and his first dental exam. He will learn about food groups, about washing his hands and avoiding unsafe situations, and will acquire the vocabulary to address present needs, and prepare him for reading and writing tasks.
At the opposite spectrum, with jobs waiting for the high school graduate, and with scholarships and opportunities for specialized training available to him, he will continue to stay in school, connect with the society he is entering and hopefully be mentored to enter the work force with enough tools to get his first job.
Education does not end with the first job or the last one. Education is a life-long pursuit and a life-long connection to our welfare and cultural trust. Without a policy to insure life-long educational opportunities, a culture fractures, loses its history and its pride, and must reinvent the wheel again and again.
President Obama understands this interconnectivity and understands that investing in education is not an isolated expenditure. The challenge for him and for us is to plan thoughtfully and long term, and focus on our EEE.