Most Americans agree that there are many benefits to having an educated citizenry and that those benefits accrue to us all. America has been a world leader in science and technology in great part because of our investments in our educational system. By working towards the principle of free public schools for all, the potential of so many of our citizens has been cultivated and has subsequently led to astounding innovations which has spurred unparalleled economic prosperity for the nation since our founding in 1776. In so many eras, a qualified intelligent workforce was readily available to fuel new industries to unparalleled heights due to the excellence of our educational systems.
Another key benefit of having an educated citizenry is that our cherished democracy is strengthened. By supporting a good public education system available to everyone’s children, intelligent minds are nurtured who will be able to discern truth from lies and make good judgments about the policies and the character of candidates. An educated citizenry increases the chances that good leaders who put the public good uppermost in their decision making are elected.
A more practical, but also very important benefit to ordinary citizens like you or me is that if you live in an area that has excellent schools, your community will prosper. The value of your real estate will improve and people will be attracted to the community to live and work, bringing talent and energy to make your community even more prosperous.
Unfortunately, there is a national, well-funded right-wing movement underfoot that believes they can inflame people’s fears and prejudices against public education in a desperate attempt to seize political power, not for the common good, but for themselves. Instead of focusing on how we can continue to maintain academic excellence and create a welcoming environment for all kinds of individuals that is conducive to their learning and realization of self-potential, they push an ugly agenda of banning books, teaching falsehoods about American history, and creating a hostile threatening atmosphere to the LGBTQ+ community. And these Republican foot soldiers are leading this charge against our precious public school system at a time when there is a critical shortage of teachers throughout our country.
Here in Pennsylvania, there is an acute shortage of teachers in part due to these kinds of onerous attacks on curricula and what even a teacher can say in the classroom. Teachers whose salaries and benefits often lag behind other professions are, when confronted with these outrageous attacks on what they can say or teach in the classroom, are considering leaving the profession. How can we maintain our academic excellence when teachers will be hard to find? In 2012/2013, more than 16,000 teachers were certified in Pennsylvania. Yet in 2021/2023 the number certified dropped precipitously to only 5,101 per a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The Philadelphia Inquirer recently spoke with Ed Fuller, an associate professor in the education policy studies department at Pennsylvania State University and author of a recently released research brief on the subject.
“This exacerbates the existing teacher shortage,” said Fuller, who is alarmed by the trend. “That means that children across the state are not going to have access to well-prepared teachers, and that’s going to affect their academic outcomes.”
We need to create a more positive environment for our teachers, not a more hostile one, if we are to deal effectively with this looming teacher shortage.
There are elections being held for many school board positions in November. Many citizens often forget that there is an election during the non-Presidential election years. It is imperative for you to vote this November for the good of your country, your state and your community and even for your own economic well-being. The Democratic candidates for school board here in Bucks County understand the importance of a good public education system and will restore sanity, common sense, and compassion, not hysterical mindless book bans and prejudice, to the administration of our schools. A vote for them will not only be good for the value of your home, but for the future of your children and our country. Vote for your Democratic school board candidates this November 7, or earlier if you vote by mail. An educated citizenry will lead to economic prosperity and a strong wise democracy for us all, both of which I know we all value and hope to see flourish.