The United States supports schools in Afghanistan because we know that education is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to build a country.
Alas, we’ve forgotten that lesson at home. All across America, school budgets are being cut, teachers laid off and education programs dismantled. …
The Center on Education Policy reports that 70 percent of school districts nationwide endured budget cuts in the school year that just ended, and 84 percent anticipate cuts this year.
In higher education, the same drama is unfolding. California’s superb public university system is being undermined by the biggest budget cuts in the state’s history. Tuition is set to rise about 20 percent this year, on top of a 26 percent increase last year, which means that college will become unaffordable for some. …
Granted, budget shortfalls are real, and schools need reforms as well as dollars. Pouring money into a broken system isn’t a solution, and we need more accountability. But it’s also true that blindly slashing budgets is making the problems worse. As Derek Bok, the former Harvard president, once observed, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
Still, we nation-build in Afghanistan and scrimp at home. How is it that we can afford to double our military budget since 9/11, can afford the carried-interest tax loophole for billionaires, can afford billions of dollars in givebacks to oil and gas companies, yet can’t afford to invest in our kids’ futures?
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Our Broken Escalator
From Nick Kristof's column in the NYT.