Stupid Is as Stupid Does: We Need to Save Education


August 18, 2014 2:16PM

It is back-to-school for Tennessee kids, and the excitement is difficult to miss if on one’s Facebook or Instagram feed. Pictures of kids dressed in their best outfits, producing cheese-faced smiles, and wearing backpacks bigger than they are to appease nostalgic parents have almost overtaken social media. As friends of mine have recently begun having school-aged children to make these new memories with, it is both exciting and nerve-racking for them to realize that these days essentially mark the beginning of a years-long training program for their future vocation. Outside of the home, education has more-or-less served as an ecosystem in which children will be gradually equipped with the tools they will need to succeed in whatever field they decide to enter. In fact, many on both sides of the political isle argue that a good education is the best remedy for escaping poverty, a life of crime, or other socio-economic obstacles. So does it not behoove us to measure the success of our education system by that admirable yardstick? In his recent column in the Daily Caller, Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, broke down the data according to whether or not the education system is a successful game-changer in our socio-economic climate. According to Enlow, “If the purpose of education is to create well-educated citizens who are employable in today’s global marketplace, we are doing a miserable job.” Among Enlow’s assessment is the startling reality that, although the Department of Labor and Statistics asserts a national jobless rate of 6.1 percent, that number skyrockets to 10.4 percent for 20-24 year olds and a whopping 19.3 percent for 18-19 year olds. Perhaps that dismal outlook is why we are witnessing a simultaneous and dramatic increase in the demand for educational choice. In the Friedman Foundation’s spring survey, 69 percent of parents with school-aged children were supportive of vouchers—compared to 59 percent in 2012. Most interestingly, those most supportive of choice options are minorities and the newer generations: African Americans (74 percent), Hispanics (72 percent), and young adults (69 percent). So as we peruse through all the pictures of backpack-toting children, we should reconsider whether we want the future leaders of our country to be trapped in a poorly performing education system of the past or whether we are going to be bold enough to demand a change. Are we going to continue the civil rights injustice of determining one’s academic opportunity based on a ZIP Code rather than on a parent’s decision? We know that our system is failing our children. Is not the definition of stupid, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”? -Lindsay Boyd donate now