Address the impact of the deadly flu pandemic on public education, and Joe Biden will face a formidable opponent in his first full presidential term. Flu season this year promises to be one of the worst in history, with more than nine million cases expected. This means higher prices for everything from flu shots to sneezing cures. With increased use of antibiotics, fewer people are getting sick and fewer people are getting cured. That means a huge demand for nurses, doctors, and other health professionals – and the resulting loss of jobs in the public health sector are being felt right now in the form of lower public education scores for students.
The challenge will be particularly acute in the states hardest hit by the recession, including Ohio, Illinois, and Colorado. In each of these states, the problem is acute: fewer students are graduating from high school and earning their high school diploma; teachers have been compelled to teach as much as possible in order to retain their jobs; and public education budgets have been slashed. In some areas, school districts have been forced to close and consolidate classes. As a consequence, hundreds of teaching and administrative positions have been eliminated or downsized.
What exactly is at stake for America’s school system? For starters, the nation’s most elementary students – those just out of kindergarten and in elementary math, science, and reading – are suffering the most. In the face of increasing poverty rates, job losses, and teacher layoffs, tens of thousands of kids are falling behind on graduation and on the path to their adulthood. While President Barack Obama has called for greater investments in early childhood education, particularly of teachers, he has also surrounded himself with a number of highly decorated individuals who have no teaching experience, including several former Harvard University scholars, all of whom share an interest in expanding charter and voucher programs that provide public school funding, as well as vouchers that allow parents to send their kids to expensive private colleges. If these initiatives do not result in increased funding for our nation’s schools, what else can?
The additional billions being targeted by President Obama and his administration for research and development into biological cures for ailments like Alzheimer’s disease, HPV, and diabetes could actually prove to be a boon for our nation’s school systems, particularly in terms of lower student spending, lower teacher spending, and a boost to the national job growth. These investments will also benefit the nation’s economy in terms of tax dollars, which will then flow directly back into the United States economy. That is because federal funding for research and development now supports more research into the nation’s future economy than ever before. That means more jobs, and a stronger economy.
But, what if Joe Biden is no longer in office? What if the current Federal Education Policy has been re-evaluated and changed in a way that puts America’s interests ahead of political goals, namely those of President Barack Obama and his political cronies in the Democrats’ party? What if Biden has made his peace with Obama’s “no new taxes” promise? What if the next president, regardless of political affiliation, has the same “vision” for the nation’s education policy as did former President George W. Bush?
That would be Oprah Winfrey, in her recently released book, “The Best Book You’ll Ever Own.” In that book, Winfrey makes mention of former President Jimmy Carter’s “vision” for the education policy of the United States and says that it was “a good thing.” She further said, “That’s what President Jimmy Carter did, he opened the door for innovation. And now we are in the cutting-edge of it all.” What a difference a celebrity like Winfrey makes!
However, the next president-elect may not have the same “guts” when it comes to education, or health care. That’s where John Edwards comes into play, along with Senator Chris Murphy, who is considered some of the “grown up” politicians in the Senate, along with Elizabeth Warren and Connecticut’s Senator Connecticut still romantically linked to the “netroots” for some reason. Even though both Edwards and Murphy are considering “pluralists” by most liberal circles, it is clear that the Obama administration and the Clinton administration will have to find a way to put together a competent health care team, or have one put together by an “expert” on healthcare. They are the ones who will be in charge of implementing Obama’s vision for the country.
It is my contention that Obama needs to choose two very capable individuals to staff the federal government agencies he has been elected to head; namely Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Kennedy and Booker can give the Obama administration the “nose,” as they are the ones more able to implement his policies. Additionally, this pair of formidable leaders will also be the ones to guide the incoming secretary of education, and she will undoubtedly need all the guidance she can get when it comes to implementing the stimulus package of Obama’s.