Friday, April 29, 2005


Our public schools, especially our "big city" public schools, are in sad shape.

As a nation, we no longer just have to worry about the "outsourcing/offshoring" of low-wage assembly line and call center jobs. We are in much more serious trouble when it comes to the "outsourcing/offshoring" of relatively high-wage, high-knowledge jobs. The principal reason for this growing disequalibrium is the decline of America's public educational system relative to other countries.

Those who can afford a high quality education (a/k/a, a private college prep school) will make that financial sacrifice for their kids (I willingly do it). But we represent maybe a couple percent of the population. What about those who can't afford the tuition or just send their kids to public schools because they won't make the financial sacrifice?

A couple of months ago, Bill Gates delivered a speech to the National Governors Association. In it, he essentially said "I will not be able to hire the kids coming out of your high schools." In his speech he said:

America’s high schools are obsolete.

By obsolete, I don’t just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed, and under-funded – though a case could be made for every one of those points.

By obsolete, I mean that our high schools – even when they’re working exactly as designed – cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

Training the workforce of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. It’s the wrong tool for the times.

Our high schools were designed fifty years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting – even ruining – the lives of millions of Americans every year.

He's right and the sad thing about it is his words won't be heeded.


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