A Way Forward

Perhaps our way forward is simple. Rather than continuing the endless narcissist debate about transformational change in American schools…”how should we do it? can it be done? do we need to tear it down and start over”, etc; we can focus our energy and resources in an effort to provide basic education to developing nations.

This initiative can do tremendous good for children around the world while providing American educators and students with enormous benefits. What are those benefits? Beyond the moral imperative to act, we will be increasing our own security here at home. John Edwards, Presidential candidate points out,

“A great portion of a generation is being educated in madrassas run by militant extremists rather than in public schools. And as a result, thousands and thousands of young people who might once have aspired to be educated in America are being taught to hate America.

When you understand that, it suddenly becomes clear: global poverty is not just a moral issue for the United States – it is a national security issue for the United States. If we tackle it, we will be doing a good and moral thing by helping to improve the lives of billions of people around the world who live on less than $2 per day – but we will also begin to create a world in which the ideologies of radical terrorism are overwhelmed by the ideologies of education, democracy, and opportunity. If we tackle it, we have the chance to change a generation of potential enemies into a generation of friends. Now that would be transformational.”

So, in addition to the moral aspect of developing public education systems in developing nations; helping create educational opportunities in developing nations, would increase our own national security.

But there is another very positive benefit to us for embarking on this challenge; by helping develop school systems where none exist today, we can leapfrog the practices we find so hard to change in our own schools. We can build the prototype schools and school systems that we have been so passionate about, and these new institutions can serve as models for our own schools.

Edwards goes on in his speech,

“But the challenge is great – generational struggles require generational solutions – so we must meet the challenge with an audacious plan.

As President I would implement a four-point plan to tackle global poverty – and improve the national security of the United States:

First, we would launch a sweeping effort to support primary education in the developing world.

More than 100 million young children have no school at all, denied even a primary education to learn how to read and write. Education is particularly important for young girls; as just one example of the ripple effects, educated mothers have lower rates of infant mortality and are 50 percent more likely to have their children immunized.

As president, I will lead a worldwide effort to extend primary education to millions of children in the developing world by fully funding the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. The U.S. will do its part by bringing education to 23 million children in poor countries, and we will ask our allies to step up and do the rest. It’s not just good for our security; it’s good for theirs.

My parents once told me, “If you are feeling sorry for yourself and your spirits are down in the dumps; the best cure is to go out and do something for someone else.”

Some educational leaders like Dennis Harper have already begun the work. There are dozens of private organizations that are working on educational initiatives. What wonderful things could be done if we awakened the tremendous power of our public education system in the United States and connected it with those private entities.

“My whole idea is that kids and youth will fix the society.” -Dennis Harper

What a great opportunity to re-invigorate the innate idealism our own children, and, in the process, reconnect with our own…talk about relevance and passion based education. What a great opportunity to move education forward in the United States by showing the way in developing nations.

Are we up to the challenge?

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