An education is the key to individual and community progress and prosperity. Yet the public education system in the United States has struggled to give children, particularly lower-income, children of color the tools they need to achieve progress and prosperity in society. Ensuring that our children learn has never been more essential then in the “knowledge era” that we live in. Individuals without the skills, literacy and socialization essential to this new world will have difficulty becoming and remaining active participants in society. The National Commission on Excellence in Education sounded the alarm regarding this dilemma over twenty years ago in their startling report: A Nation at Risk. There have been countless commissions and reports since then. Yet, not much has changed. Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century should serve as a final warning to our nation’s leaders that if we want to remain competitive, we must educate our citizens.
The World Is Flat should be required reading for every political, business, religious and civic leader. It simplifies the complex policy and economic realities that increasingly impact our every day life. The world has been transformed from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge-based, idea driven economy. This global transformation to an inter-connected knowledge society makes it even clearer that America has to either educate her children has to either educate her children or continue to lose jobs to India, China and other countries. The late father of modern management, Peter Drucker, “prophesied” this for decades. Friedman’s The World is Flat might be the most succinct analysis written about this new global economy where knowledge is the new capital.
The failure to prepare our children for the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) will make it difficult for U.S. citizens to fill the 5 million new job openings projected by the Department of Labor by 2014. This, my friends is the great threat- more then free trade agreements. Not to be pessimistic but even if we were still living in the Industrial Age, the education our children are receiving (particularly in lower-income, communities of color) still falls short.