Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Linking Education and Economic Progress

While education is enjoying a global resurgence, it continues to be the target of conservative politicians in the United States. The World Bank places a premium on education, and more specifically, the education of young girls in developing Third World countries.

Today, loans to poor nations are granted with this single factor used as an important criterion in the loan-granting process. Educated women typically give birth to fewer children (an average of two rather than eight). The two children hailing from the smaller households will typically receive an education, because of two primary factors:

(1) formal education (instead of daily survival) in smaller families rises to the level of a high "family priority," when monthly income leaves funds available for discretionary spending, and
(2) more family resources can be invested in schooling rather than in basic needs of food, clothing, etc., for a large number of family members, who are not making even modest contributions to the family income. The ultimate fiscal drain on limited family resources often spells foreclosure on financially out-of-reach educational opportunities.

National instability and political oppression, coincidentally, often accompany high levels of poverty and low levels of education. Countries with a substantive middle-class population typically enjoy greater political stability, which allows them to make good on their World Bank loans.

The current attack on public employees in general, and public education in particular can be disastrously short-sighted recognizing the high correlation that we all acknowledge between a quality "education for all" and global economic standing.

There are no "internal winners" in the senseless assaults on public education. In both the long-term and the short-term, our entire nation will suffer when we don't support public education and maximize learning for every child who walks into our doors.

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