A militarized education

The U.S. education system needs a training institution similar to West Point.

Democratic primary presidential candidate John Edwards said in 2003, “there are two Americas. Ö One America that does the work (and) another that reaps the reward.”

The United States is divided – the division begins at birth and is cemented in many schools. Between 1970 and 1988, the achievement gap between black and white students was reduced by half and for Hispanics by one-third. But in 1988, the improvements ceased and the gaps have increased since.

The U.S. government’s efforts over the past 20 years to end education disparities have come up short. In 1991, Congress passed the National Literacy Act to put an end to illiteracy in America. The act stated that nearly 30,000,000 adults in the U.S. struggle with literacy. That number remains constant today. President Bill Clinton instituted the America Reads program in 1998 for college students to tutor children specifically from low-income families. Though the initiative has an effect, America Reads does not address long-term teacher shortages, low teacher salary or lack of government funding for education as a whole. President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind falls short in similar areas, but it also punishes underperforming schools, making it harder for low-income students to achieve. These government initiatives have acknowledged an education crisis and have allocated funds to solve the problem, but it seems that the issue is the focus, not the needs of teachers and students.

Edwards, while campaigning in Iowa, revised his “Two Americas” speech to address the racial and economic separation in U.S. schools. He proposed up to $15,000 in incentive pay for teachers who work in high-poverty communities. Edwards also called for a national university that would be a “West Point for teachers.”

As countless billions of dollars have been spent on the military over the past five years, the U.S. government’s commitment to its citizens, especially its teachers and students, must be considered. Just as each soldier needs a qualified leader, supplies for protection, training and nourishment, America’s teachers and students need the same.