Commentary

Not cheaper–smarter

John Kerry has noticed that our schools have lots of room for improvement: Sen. John F. Kerry accused President Bush today of ignoring a crisis in high school graduation rates and proposed a plan to reduce the number of dropouts by 20% annually. “It is time to stop shortchanging our education reforms and get this done right,” Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, said in a speech he was delivering at an elementary school in Albuquerque. “This administration is not paying attention to graduation rates and is hiding the fact that more than one million kids drop out every year.” OK, we’ll add “decrease drop out rate” to his “To do” list, but I’m sure the senatorââ?¬â??apart from having more kids hang out until graduationââ?¬â??would also want those students to have actually learned more, too. There is a link between today’s issue and an issue Kerry has been harping on for a whileââ?¬â??outsourcing. As this study from the American Electronics Association notes, outsourcing is not just about finding cheaper labor. Increasingly, and particularly in the tech sector, outsourcing will be about finding smarter labor. The AEA study reminds us of something we’ve known for quite a whileââ?¬â??American students are falling behind other nations, and the gap is especially wide in math and science. In other words, fix our schools and you might just keep more jobs at home.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.