Picture this…..Vermont abandons many of its under-funded, often poorly conceived fix-it initiatives in favor of a single strategic one. Investments largely wasted on economic development, various consumer and business subsidies, some tourism marketing, childcare, workforce training, over-incarceration and the like would be diverted to building the finest post-natal through post-graduate educational system in the world.
Such a commitment would lay the groundwork for durable economic prosperity through increased in-migration, technology transfer, entrepreneurial startups, reduced economic crime, fuller employment and salary growth. The move from childcare to early education, already in progress, would ready children for a demanding educational system and workplace.
We already have a jump on most states. Our educational outcomes are indeed better, though still far below those in many foreign countries. There are many who believe our Dept of Education needs to be rethought from the ground up, giving us an opportunity to bring educational leaders together to re-envisage how we might lead the nation in a 20-year continuum of quality education and lifelong learning. Kids could take a year off and go abroad or exit the system at 18 to work.
Such a breath-taking leap would require leadership across all sectors: the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, the non-profit and philanthropic sector and the business community, which has long been a champion of early education and higher learning.
The effort resembles the trend in healthcare to refocus investments strategically away from repetitive symptomatic disease treatment towards education, prevention and disease management, all of which have better long-term outcomes and improve the wellbeing of society at large.
Educational excellence positively affects every social ill on which we spend billions. It spurs innovation, new business, enhances workforce quality and compensation. It reduces crime and incarceration, and enhances tax revenues.
Imagine Vermont as an international destination for those providing or seeking the highest quality education available.