Thursday, April 3, 2008


Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal:

"If we do not dramatically transform the way we train our high school graduates, the gap between the skills of our work force and the work will widen and cripple our economy. And more Louisiana families will continue to leave our state in search of opportunities to pursue their dreams," Jindal said.

This quote speaks volumes about the need for drastic reforms in education. I might call it a drastic case of the Peter Principle (which happens when a worker is promoted to the level of his own incompetence) but I may get into rhetorical trouble. Our business economy, in all its resplendence and diversity and vitality, has left behind the component that makes that possible: a diverse, vital and well-trained work force. They call it a “force” for a reason—because nothing happens without it. Nothing is pushed or pulled in any direction and no entities have cause to interact. There is no trade, no commerce, no invention and no production.

Because education is how we prepare a generation to, put simply, work—or participate in society and economy, it makes sense that education should mirror some of the characteristics that make a strong workforce. Choice, competition and reward come to mind as areas where education has not taken its cues from the marketplace, and it has resulted in a weakness and a lack of preparedness that is affecting many generations of children.

Henry Clay once said, “Of all human powers operating on the affairs of mankind, none is greater than competition.” Yes, he’s the dueling one. And he facilitated the Missouri Compromise.

Harnessing that power to improve and sharpen public education seems a worthwhile endeavor. Many critics claim that people will abuse their choice, but quite frankly that’s not a good enough argument against a “right”. Most rights can be abused, and we can curb and punish abuse, but the fear of abuse has never held up in this country as a reason not to extend a right.

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