We have a shot

I was recently asked by Blog, MD to weigh in on how I'd spend the $456 billion that has so far been spent on the U.S. military effort in Iraq if, by some terrible error, I were made Queen of the World. This is a difficult question for me because the only items of whose cost I am sure these days are grocery store sushi and sturdy shoes. And while it would be kind of awesome to buy enough spicy tuna rolls to last me until I'm too old to chew anything but the wasabi, that wouldn't exactly benefit humanity.


If it were up to me, I'd spend this wad of cash entirely on education. I'm no expert on public policy, so the components of my little fantasy are simple: of highest priority, I'd pay teachers better and hire more of them with a goal of having smaller student:teacher ratios. In addition, I'd improve school facilities and invest in education technology everywhere; I'd return art, music, and physical education programs to the schools that have lost them; I'd add or improve after-school programs, especially in areas with a preponderance of high-risk kids; I'd improve school nutrition programs; I'd invest in student counseling and mentorship programs.

Parenting works reasonably well when parents care about their kids. But when parents are distracted from parenting by other things--poverty, illness, hunger, abuse, desperation--the system breaks down. Schools end up functioning in somewhat of a parenting role for kids from broken families, whether voluntarily or not. If we enable schools to maximize their effectiveness at giving these high-risk kids a large proportion of what they need, I feel we have a shot at breaking destructive cycles in at least a few families.

I dare anyone to come up with a social problem that education wouldn't improve in the long term. Only when the oppressed are armed with knowledge will the patriarchy be overthrown! etc.

Now back to your usual, mostly-apolitical programming.

More like this

I wrote last week about the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which the Affordable Care Act (ACA) created to invest in improving overall population health – with the hope that improved health will help slow the growth of healthcare costs. Another provision of the ACA that aims to reduce future…
When we were getting ready to have our first child, I decided that I would quit my job, work out of home as a freelancer, and take care of our baby while Greta finished graduate school. That worked well for about two years, but by the time Nora was born, we decided to hire a part-time nanny so I…
Publishing in Science, Gormley et al. compared the benefits of Oklahoma's TPS pre-K program to Head Start. Conclusion: preschool matters in cognitive development. Early childhood education programs in the United States face enormous challenges. The overwhelming majority of Head Start program…
by Kim Krisberg If you serve it, they will eat it. That's one of the many lessons gleaned from a new report on the national Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. In the first really rigorous study of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), researchers…

You know, championing education isn't all that controversial so I figured you wouldn't get that many comments. There is one controversial point though. In your grand plan for the 456 billion, you forgot to mention buying me my Aston Martin Vanquish. Don't forget your peeps when you become queen of the world. I want my dang James Bondmobile.

Education is indeed the absolute cornerstone of a modern society. We need no more proof of the failure of the US educational system, especially when it comes to science, than to view the evolution debate going on throughout some of this country.

But in America, unless it kills people, or can take and hold territory, there simply is no long range planning for something this important. We have a very dangerous sense on invulnerability, and unfortunately the education of our children, like climate change, is not something you can "fix" after it's too late.

Hurrahhhhh yet again, daughter!

I say every little bit counts.. and the earlier - the better. As the sign that is STILL hanging behind THAT door says:
Kids need thing other than drugs.. good things, like reading, playing music, dancing, art are habit forming too... Toghether with a loving guiding hand, miracles can happen.
Faithfully.. Mom

By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 May 2007 #permalink

We already spend more money on education per capita than any other nation on earth. We also have the lowest outcomes of any industrialized nation on earth.

What on earth makes you thyink throwing more money at hte problem is going to fix it?

Nobody thinks taht throwing more money at the healthcare system is going to magically make our system better, yet for some reason everybody thinks the opposite for education.

Its a joke. I know you've been brainwashed by all the teacher unions who keep blindly insisting that throwing more money at it will fix the problem. We'll we've tried throwing money at the problem for 40 years now and guess what we havent improved one iota.

FIX THE PROBLEMS that have absolutely nothing to do with money.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 20 Jun 2007 #permalink

Brilliant idea! Now, all we have to do is find a problem that has absolutely nothing to do with money.

Also, thank you so much for alerting me to my own brainwashedness. You're right--100% of the kids in this country have it so good, and they don't even know it. Next time those teachers' unions approach me with their evil propaganda, I am going to poke them right in their beady little eyes.

Do you hear me, teachers' unions? Right in your beady little eyes!