Spending $1 trillion for highways, bridges and school repairs won’t stimulate the economy in the long run, argues New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. We need to stimulate learning, creating “more Google-ready jobs and Windows-ready and knowledge-ready workers.”
Barack Obama is talking about preparing for global competition by “investing in the science, research and technology that will lead to new medical breakthroughs, new discoveries and entire new industries.”
But, again, how?
. . . give everyone who is academically eligible and willing a quick $5,000 to go back to school. . . .
. . . eliminate federal income taxes on all public schoolteachers so more talented people would choose these careers. I’d also double the salaries of all highly qualified math and science teachers, staple green cards to the diplomas of foreign students who graduate from any U.S. university in math or science — instead of subsidizing their educations and then sending them home — and offer full scholarships to needy students who want to go to a public university or community college for the next four years.
Academically eligible students — and quite a few who aren’t eligible — already go to college in the U.S. Where we lose potential scientists and innovators is in the K-12 system. There’s no quick fix for that, though it would make sense to pay more to competent math and science teachers — and to other teachers with high-demand skills, such as special ed specialists. Exempting all public teachers from income taxes is a bad idea: We’re all in this together.
I back allowing foreign math and science graduates to stay in the U.S.
It’s also important to ensure that community colleges have the funds to offer classes to laid-off workers who need to improve their skills.
Eduwonk has more on compensating teachers.