Hi 81 / Lo 73
|Volume 71, Issue 80,
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
Bush leaves universities behind in Union address
President Bush delivered the State of the Union Address on Tuesday night and covered many important issues: Oil addiction, the retirement of the baby boomer generation, fighting HIV/AIDS and animal-human hybrids all got some time in the spotlight as the nation watched Bush present his ideas and plans for the next year.
Higher education, however, was effectively ignored.
Bush did give substantial attention to education in general, with a call for more focus on math and science as China and India become competitors in global technology. In introducing his American Competitiveness Initiative, he offered to "give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science," but he refrained from introducing any plan to help those children afford further education.
He sells the plan as something to support the development of Advanced Placement courses in high schools and encourage research and investment into both public and private research, but he leaves out the vital bridge between the two ideas: a college education.
Students -- no matter how brilliant -- cannot go straight from high school into the big leagues; science is not basketball. There is no Kobe Bryant or LeBron James in the world of mathematics.
If Bush expects the United States to continue to lead the world in technological improvements and scientific developments, he must realize higher education is essential to training Americans able to outpace Chinese and Indian innovations. He must also realize improvements must be made to the higher education system; not only is affordable tuition important, but higher standards for university professors and a greater availability of student loans are also critical.
The role the federal government should play in education is debatable, but if Bush is taking it upon himself to help fund primary and secondary schools, he should not ignore those students working themselves through college to ensure the United States will excel in every field.
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