The following is a letter from alumna, Anita Zucker, regarding her view of education and the necessity of proper funding of education as a way to secure a better future for our country.
To: Editor, Charleston Regional Business Journal
Re: Op Ed Request
Where Is Our Vision?
As we try to deal with all that is happening today – in the world, in our country and in our state – we are neglecting to focus on the most important decisions impacting our nation’s future! The very funding that allows us to educate our children and to train our future workforce is in jeopardy. Cuts to local, state and national education budgets are eliminating or severely limiting what we need most to porsper: well-educated and highly motivated citizens who will be our future parents, our future leaders.
Cutting workforce training programs, reducing education scholarships and grants, and limiting access to postsecondary education is short-term thinking that will result in long-term costs. Just consider the impact of the federal Pell Grant Program that Congress is considering cutting and/or restructuring. Over 107,000 people in our state received more than $406 million dollars in Pell grants last year (09-10). At Trident Technical College alone, over 10,500 students received more than $35 million in Pell funding this academic year. The vast majority of these students come from families with very modest incomes. Without this financial help, most could not access higher education and vital job training programs … a bleak future for them and their children.
We hear it often, and we know it is true: to compete globally in an increasingly complex world, we must educate our children well and train our workforce adequately.
Again, where is our vision?
Our future prosperity as a nation is being determined by the quality of education and training we provide today, particularly in the areas where we have been losing ground: science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The supply and availability of these workers is critical in generating new ideas and new industries, the life-blood of innovation and competitiveness that will grow and sustain our country’s economy.
Our young people must see the relevance for their education by exploring career and training options during high school. These opportunities will help them decide what to study — to get a certificate, a two-year college degree or a four-year college degree. And the four-year degree is not always the answer if students select majors with no job openings. Without specific, marketable skills needed in today’s tough market, many college graduates are struggling to find employment.
We must commit now to fund education – education from pre-kindergarten through higher education – and to fund education at levels that will make our country more globally competitive and innovative.
Education must be a priority to support the coming leaders of tomorrow. That is the vision I hope to see in our leaders in government as they struggle to make budget decisions.
Supporting education should not be a hard decision. The ultimate costs are too high: a weaker economy, more unemployment, higher crime rates, lost potential and – saddest of all – a generation with less hope for a better life.
We simply cannot afford a minimally educated generation.
Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer
The InterTech Group