Does education matter when the economy is spinning out of control?

Education matters even more when the economy is spinning out of control.

If you have kids entering the workforce in the next ten years, there is no more important issue than education.

I have three.  I worry about their futures every day.

I don’t worry about the national debt.  Really, I don’t.

I worry about whether they will be able to find economically valuable roles when they graduate, especially now that there are so few remaining such roles.

I worry about whether they will have the skill sets to be able to compete with their contemporaries from China, Finland and Singapore.

The day my most recent op-ed appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, I received an e-mail from a dad in that city.  It began, “I just finished reading your article and I have to tell you, it scared the heck out of me.”  He was talking about his son who is heading off to college in a few weeks.

“Scared” is right.  The marketing jobs that seemed so attractive until a few years ago have evaporated.  The investment banking jobs that lured so many of our best and brightest now seem perilous.  Our society can only support so many creative writing majors.

Where are the safe employment harbors for our present crop of high school and college students?  It’s no secret:  engineering, information technology, the physical sciences, the health sciences.  Just check the starting salaries for new graduates at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels.

So why do so many parents of high school students think it’s OK to stop taking math at Algebra 2?  Why does Senator Simmons insist on sabotaging Precalculus classes?  Why do students (and their parents and counselors) think it’s OK to skip physics to protect the students’ GPA’s?  Why do so many IB schools not bother to offer physics to their students at all?

What could they all possibly be thinking?

I know what I’m thinking:  I’m thinking that my kids better get ready for a lifelong economic hurricane.  I’m thinking that the economic salvation of society will be a reinvigorated culture of technological innovation, and I want them prepared to be at the forefront.

If you’re not thinking that about your kids, you should be.

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