It is a truism rarely acknowledged in this country: the single most important infrastructure investment we can make for the future is in education. I'm not talking about retrofitting the buildings or constructing more classrooms. No, we provide for the future by educating our young people, preparing them to become productive members of society. Study after study shows that the higher one's education level is, the higher the median income and the less likely one is to suffer unemployment.
But we're not doing that. No, in these austerity times, politicians clamor to cut services and jobs. Teachers are demonized. Vouchers are touted as the answer, when it's simply a way to privatize profits away from public schools. Hell, some GOP would be happy if we eliminate the Department of Education altogether.
A rare and welcome progressive appearance on the Sunday shows, Rep. Maxine Waters bemoans the disconnect between what politicians say we need to focus on and what they're really doing about it:
To tell you the truth, the plight of education in this country is shameful. Just a few days ago I learned that more cities, more states are reducing the number of education days down to four instead of five. And I could not help but stop and think, "Is this America? Is this the country that said and continues to say that education is a top priority?" Why are we not investing more in education? Why do we have dropouts? Why do we have educational systems that are failing? Why is it that we have a situation where many of our young people will not be able to compete in this high technological society because they're not properly educated? And so, no, we do pay lip service to education. We don't really invest in it, and that's got to change. But let me just say this, Americans want to work. This joblessness is not only hitting the middle class, but it is hitting all classes. It is absolutely unconscionable what is happening in the minority communities. When we look at this no jobs haven't been created in August and we find in the African-American community it has increased from 16 percent, 15.9, 16 percent, up now 16.7 percent, and now we're going to talk about cutting government by $1.5 trillion, this new 12 committee membership that we have after the raising the debt ceiling debate? And that means that we're going to lose more jobs, that means more people are going to be unemployed. The African-American rate will probably go up to about 20 percent. I don't know how our country can sustain that kind of...
Of course, David Gregory interrupts her at this point, because Lord know, the plight of the African American community doesn't concern him. But then again, he has the gall to say that we only play lip service to the importance of education. You know, the same guy who only pays lip service to journalism and who spent the better part of the last two years telling his viewers that Americans cared about the deficit when poll after poll proved him a lying hack with a corporate agenda.