Reprinted from Robert Reich Blog
I couldn't agree more. Higher education isn't just a personal investment. It's a public good that pays off in a more competitive workforce and better-informed and engaged citizens. Every year, we spend nearly $100 billion on corporate welfare, and more than $500 billion on defense spending. Surely ensuring the next generation can compete in the global economy is at least as important as subsidies for big business and military adventures around the globe.
In fact, I think we can and must go further -- not just making public higher education tuition-free, but reinventing education in America as we know it. (That's the subject of this latest video in my partnership with MoveOn, "The Big Picture: Ten Ideas to Save the Economy." Please take a moment to watch now.)
We have to reinvent education because it's not working for too many of our kids -- who are either dropping out of high school because they aren't engaged, or not getting the skills they need, or paying a fortune for college and ending up with crushing student debt.
First, stop the wall-to-wall testing that's destroying the love of teaching and learning. Let's get back to a curriculum that builds curiosity, problem solving, teamwork and perseverance, and away from teaching to the test. Give teachers space to teach, and give students freedom to learn. Limit classrooms to 20 children so teachers can give students the individual attention they need.
Offer high school seniors the option of a year of technical education, followed by two years of free technical education at a community college. The route into the middle class shouldn't always require a four-year college degree. America needs technicians who can install, service, repair, and upgrade complex equipment in offices, laboratories, hospitals, and factories.
And critically, we must increase pay and improve conditions for the men and women who power our schools -- teachers and school staff who educate our kids, clean our classrooms, and keep our schools safe.
By reinventing education in these sensible ways, we all gain.