California has reached the point of no return. Either we decide to value education and support it financially as a state or we face a very uncertain future, one that will eliminate the American Dream for a full generation of students and have a cascadingly negative impact on all of California. I want every student to become a successful tax-payer, not just a tax-user. This requires an appropriate investment in California’s education system Pre-K-16.
It is short-sighted to think we can continue to cut education and experience little or no negative effect in the long run by doing so. There is no fat left in education budgets. The California promise of a higher education is rapidly becoming a vapor as high school seniors find, even after proper planning and taking all the right courses, there is no seat for them in college or it is too outrageously expensive to attend.
I don’t believe it is too late to do something about it. California’s leaders must make the education of our students their number one priority and not just through rhetoric. The legislature needs to pass a minimum of a two-year budget for education so we don’t have a reactive but a strategic effect in our planning. If we don’t, we will continue to lose our position not only within the United States, but also globally. We also must stop making test-taking and budget reduction our top priorities or we will lose forever what made this nation great: creativity and innovation.
Let’s put some of that creativity and innovation to work again and craft an education system that values the side of America that made us the number one country in the world through inventions and patents. We have to stop trying to become like other nations and return to what made us great and the envy of every other nation in the world. We must focus our energy on the genius of the American system: valuing creativity and innovation, not test-taking. We can do this by making the education of our students an unwavering commitment. It will pay great dividends for all Californians.
Larry Powell is superintendent of Fresno County Schools and a CA Fwd Forward Thinker.