Weekly Columns

Laying the Foundation for Long Term

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Washington, September 15, 2010 | comments
It’s that time of year again – it’s back to school for families across Tennessee and the nation.
Education is the centerpiece in the development of our mind. A high-quality education is critical for our children’s future and to America succeeding in an increasingly global marketplace. More and more, job growth and job creation are going to be tied to knowledge, which is tied to our education.

Education is an investment into a child’s future. Studying and working hard in elementary and high school helps prepare to enter the workplace or college. Having a quality education and earning a diploma is more important than ever to today’s youth and our society. Research from the Census Bureau at the beginning of this decade shows individuals with a high school diploma are going to earn $200,000 more in their career than a dropout. Someone with a 2 year associates degree will earn $600,000 more and a bachelor’s degree will earn $1.1 million more than someone who doesn’t complete high school.

Quality education directly impacts economic growth. I believe there is a direct correlation between the strength of our economy and the education that we provide to our young people. The better the quality of education we can provide our children, the more opportunities they will have in life, and the higher chance they will be able to land a job, keep their job and advance their career. Economic research has found links between higher levels of cognitive skill—defined as “the performance of students on tests in math and science”—and economic growth. Specifically, Eric Hanushek, Dean Jamison, Eliot Jamison, and Ludger Woessmann write in the Spring 2008 issue of Education Next that countries with higher test scores experience far higher growth rates. In their research, they have found that a highly skilled workforce can raise economic growth by about two thirds of a percentage point every year.

Innovation is spurred by science and technology education. As a doctor, I feel that we need to create more incentives to attract more students into these fields. Promoting math and science is a direct investment into our future generations and maintaining our position as the world’s leading economy. As we try to spur job creation, we must have policies that position our country to compete in the global economy, and it's clear we've been falling behind in these areas. To maintain the United States as the innovation leader, we must encourage innovative development now.

If we create a better education system and more opportunities for our children, I believe we will solve problems like health care and energy because people will simply be able to make the right choices for themselves. I believe that the key to improving our economy in the long run is making sure our children are receiving the quality education they need and deserve.
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