Biden can change the U.S. forever. Now that Joe Biden has won the election, it is time to again issue the challenge I blogged in August, so here goes.
I have a suggestion for Joe Biden that would unlock an untapped national economic resource, would address in a significant and positive way the national issue of equal opportunity, and would make a major contribution to the goal of establishing the U.S. as a country, not just a divisive collection of states and individuals.
The suggestion is to federalize all public education.
The current state of public education in the United States means that the quality and standards of education you receive depend entirely on where you live, and they vary dramatically across the country.
Schools are funded by property taxes. That may be good if you live in a rich neighborhood, but bad if you live in a poor one. Such a system of funding makes a mockery of equal opportunity from the very start of formal education, and gets worse as a student moves from kindergarten through to high school.
Equal opportunity can only be achieved if there is a National curriculum, National policies and National funding. Even this is only a start, but it is an irreplaceable basic requirement. Every other equal opportunity program in the world is only an ineffective band aid, when the basis of equal opportunity, education, creates inequality from kindergarten onwards.
The idea that a school board in Illinois can decide that the curriculum in the local school should be all about farming in order to try and keep the kids down on the farm (words of the Illinois Chief State School Officer several years ago), and that the top public high school in Mississippi provides a ten-times worse level of education than the worst public high school in New York City (recent government report) is a National disgrace. Worse, it’s an incredible waste of human resources.
The U.S. can no longer afford this patchwork of standards and quality, when the country needs all the help it can get in an increasingly competitive world. Biden can change the U.S. forever.
I have to admit that anyone who tries to change the status quo of parochial control of U.S education will be vilified, harassed, and maybe even shot, but their legacy will be positively historic. We desperately need leadership on all levels, but National leadership in education could have dramatically positive results for the country, and its people.
Is anyone up to that challenge in the current political, sound-bite, let’s tear down anyone-and-anything-that-stands-out-in-the-crowd, let’s focus only on getting re-elected, environment? I would dare to hope that there might be someone.
Joe, are you listening? You’ve been in politics most of your life, and have had your full share of significant achievements and failures. You’re also old enough not to worry too much about being re-elected after 2024. Reforming U.S. public education in this way would totally set you apart from the former presidential crowd. It is an opportunity to change the future of the country in a way that few, if any, previous leaders have done.
For all our sakes, go for it.