Thomas Friedman has used his New York Times Op-Ed column to talk about science and technology policy the last two Fridays. Today he deals with education, in particular Bill Gates’s recent pronouncement that American high-schools are obsolete. Friedman writes:
Let me translate Mr. Gates’s words: “If we don’t fix American education, I will not be able to hire your kids.” I consider that, well, kind of important. Alas, the media squeezed a few mentions of it between breaks in the Michael Jackson trial. But neither Tom DeLay nor Bill Frist called a late-night session of Congress—or even a daytime one—to discuss what Mr. Gates was saying. They were too busy pandering to those Americans who don’t even believe in evolution.
I’m excerpting this section primarily because it gives me the opportunity to say something that has been pent up inside me for a while now. How can we possibly expect our science education system to be world class when we refuse to teach evolution, which is only the core tenet of biology?
OK, now back to a rational discussion of the article.
Friedman mentions the competition from India and China, the importance of innovation to sustaining long-term economic prosperity, and concludes with the following:
India and China know they can’t just depend on low wages, so they are racing us to the top, not the bottom. Producing a comprehensive U.S. response—encompassing immigration, intellectual property law and educational policy—to focus on developing our talent in a flat world is a big idea worthy of a presidency. But it would also require Mr. Bush to do something he has never done: Ask Americans to do something hard.
It’s great to have someone with Friedman’s profile making the connection between technology, education, innovation and our economic welfare. I love writing this blog and reading the e-mails and comments I get from all of you. But, to fall back on an overused metaphor, we’re the choir. Millions of people read Friedman; hopefully they’ll hear the message.