From 1999-2006 “The West Wing” was one of the most popular shows on NBC. For seven seasons, the political drama captures the attention as viewers followed President Jed Bartlett and his administration. Thanks to Netflix, I finally watched all seven seasons about four years ago. Randomly, I was bored and decided to start watching it again. My favorite character is Sam Seaborn, who serves as Deputy White House Communication Director. In season one, episode 18 “Six Meetings Before Lunch,” Sam was talking to White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry’s daughter after they were arguing about Sam’s speech on school vouchers. Sam offered his opinion on how important education was, and it made me raise from the couch:
Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes, we need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. Competition for the best teachers should be fierce; they should be making six figures salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for the government and absolutely free of charge to it citizens, just like national defense.
I couldn’t agree more with Sam. He was completely right. This statement made in 1999, is still relevant 21 years later. We are still having the same conversation about how to improve education in our country. Education was then and still is the silver bullet. A top-tier education system in this country can provide an immediate and effective solution to the problems we face in this country. How can we be the most powerful country in the world and have a middle of the pack education systems compared to other countries around the world? In February, the President sent Congress a proposed Fiscal year 2021 budget that requested in $740.5 billion for national security. The same President decided to cut the budget by $5.6 billion. This administration wants to cut public-school funding and put billions towards private school vouchers.
I agree that we should be spending to ensure the safety of our country. We should ensure that we have a robust and top-tier national defense to defend our country against foreign enemies. I am sure of the 740.5 billion dollars that a significant amount is spent on war funds. I do not understand how we cannot pour the same money into our schools to equip our children with the tools they need. The money that is cut drastically impacts those schools serving our neediest population. Instead, we send our miseducated children into society without a fighting chance to survive war happening in our country on the streets. Even retired Adm. William McRaven believes that K-12 education is just as vital as US national security.
Whether it is the pandemic of COVID-19 or the pandemic of racial injustice, we won’t improve things unless we improve education. We cannot improve education unless we support it financially. Whatever the price may be, education should have a blank check. The school year 2020 will be like no other. Many schools across the country are grappling with reopening plans, and they do not have the funds to adequately open school safely. CARES Act does help as it provides many schools with much-needed funding. Imagine what a combination of CARES and top-tier education budget could do to improve the quality of education in this country.
A blank check for education in this country is a commitment to the future. Somewhere in some schools across this country is the individual or individuals who will cure cancer, cure AIDS, and cure COVID-19. Everywhere in this country in every school, all children should receive an education that properly educates them on the unfiltered history of this country, so we can stop repeating our past errors. The silver bullet will ensure that schools can spend money on the proper social workers and counselors that they need and can do it without giving up teachers or technology for students. The silver bullet will give schools the money needed to go after the best of the best to educate our children. Investment in education will allow all schools, if need be, to go from in-person learning to e-learning without comprising the education quality.
Like Sam, that is my position on education. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.