• United States
News Editor

Our future at risk

Mar 29, 20062 mins
Data Center

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times this morning calls attention to a pair of studies that hold enormous implications for the future of the U.S. economy, in general, and the technology sector, in particular. (TimeSelect subscribers only.)

One is called “Teaching at Risk” from the Teaching Commission, which is headed by the former I.B.M. chairman Lou Gerstner. This report focuses on the sorry state of the teaching profession – not the teachers, necessarily, but the profession – in the country’s K-12 schools.

“If teaching remains a second-rate profession, America’s economy will be driven by second-rate skills,” Gerstner says. “We can wake up today — or we can have a rude awakening sooner than we think.”

From Friedman: “The Teaching Commission notes that ‘our schools are only as good as their teachers,’ yet this “occupation that makes all others possible is eroding at its foundations.” Top students are far less likely to go into teaching today; salaries are stagnant; nearly 50 percent of new teachers leave within five years. To remedy this, the commission calls for raising teachers’ base pay, finding ways to reward the best teachers, raising standards for acquiring a teaching degree and testing would-be teachers, on the basis of national standards, to be certain they have mastered the subjects they will teach.”

The second study, “America’s Technology Future at Risk” by the Economic Strategy Institute, highlights the growing gap between broadband services available in this country and those available abroad. It’s become a familiar lament these days, but one we continue to ignore at great peril.

Friedman also mentions a third study — the Bush Administration’s “National Security Strategy for 2006” – and notes that its authors appear to be oblivious to the shortcomings documented in the teaching and broadband reports.

News Editor

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