Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reich: Strengthen human capital by investing in education

Our nation’s future depends on all Americans living up to their responsibility to help provide quality public schools for all students. Unfortunately, budget cuts and a very aggressive attack on public schools are creating new urgency to support, defend and strengthen public schools.

In this video, Robert Reich, former U.S. secretary of labor, urges Americans to shift the focus from investing in financial capital to investing in human capital in the form of public education. “Our schools are the engines of our human capital, and if we don’t bail out public education, we face a bigger economic Armageddon years from now,” says Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. “Human capital is the one resource that is uniquely American, on which our future living standards uniquely depend."

Investments matter:
  • According to a recent report by the Center on Education Policy, about 70% of all school districts experienced funding cuts in school year 2010-11. An even greater proportion of districts, about 84%, anticipate funding cuts in school year 2011-12.
  • Laying off teachers, counselors, and other school staff is a primary means used to make up for these funding shortfalls. About 85% of the districts with funding decreases in school year 2010-11 cut jobs for teachers and other staff (CEP). 
  • About 60% of districts that anticipate funding cuts for school year 2011-12 plan to let go of additional teachers and other personnel (CEP).
  • McKinsey & Company has estimated that closing the achievement gap between White students and their Black and Latino peers could increase the annual Gross Domestic Product by more than half a trillion dollars (Lost Opportunity).

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