Sunday, June 24 , 2018, 6:45 am | Overcast 63º


Letter to the Editor: Government Needs to Fund, Not Fix, Education

My time on the campaign trail this spring has given me an opportunity to listen to people’s concerns. The people I have talked to believe in opportunity and enterprise, and they are worried that a damaged educational system is putting these core American values in jeopardy. We need to refocus on the foundation of our American prosperity: our uniquely diverse, creative and hardworking American population.

Our education system is renowned for teaching students to think creatively and critically. Questioning is a value we Americans hold dear, and our education system reflects that value. Much has been made in recent years of our educational failures, and they are real, but the system isn’t broken. It is woefully underfunded and crippled by top-down regulations. Our communities need the resources and the control so that decisions can be made locally, tailored to local challenges and local opportunities.

As a nation, we need to invest in education from preschool through graduate school. Government doesn’t need to fix education; it needs to fund education. The fix will come from the opportunity our students have to choose their own path, with the doors open to all who are able and willing to apply themselves.

We need to recognize that education trends follow job trends, which follow industry trends. After World War II, the electronics industry boomed, and colleges graduated record numbers of engineers; in the 1970s, the computer industry took off, jobs in this sector were plentiful and students enrolled in computer-related courses in record numbers. Today, with the baby-boomers aging, health care is in the spotlight. Supply and demand works for education if we are willing to trust in local control.

People are worried because, as funding for education has declined, we have seen the elimination of critical elements of the system. Vocational programs, once present in all middle and high schools, have largely disappeared. Students are practiced in test taking but often graduate from high school without a single hands-on lab experience. We are depriving our students, especially our less traditional students, of the opportunity to experience what it feels like to learn, and then apply, an actual skill. People know that this is not the way to provide our small-business-driven economy with the creative and energetic work force it needs to thrive.

Education is the critical link between opportunity and enterprise. Americans are innovators. They will answer the challenges, identify the opportunities and forge the enterprises. Government has a role, accountability is essential, but regulations don’t solve problems or move the nation forward.

The American people have to do that, and they will do that. Government needs to provide the tools, clear the path and get out of the way.

Marie Panec
Oak Park Unified School District Board of Education

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >