By Ron Crumpton
Education is the silver bullet in America. The starting point for everything that we as Alabamians want to see for our state is in the education of our children.
Statistics show that the success of a state directly correlates with the education of its people. Areas with excellent school systems have lower crime rates across the board, and states with a better-educated citizenry are more likely to attract business and industry.
Unfortunately, you cannot cure the disease by treating the symptoms, and you cannot solve the problems facing our nation without changing our policies toward education.
Our classrooms should be cathedrals, our teachers of the highest caliber and all students should be given every necessary opportunity to ensure that they have the skills to be a productive member of our society.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
Nearly half of the schools currently operating in this country were built to educate baby boomers, and the number of students that each school is responsible for educating is expected to grow at least through 2019. In other words, many of the schools that we rely on to educate our children are aging and were not designed for the number of students that we have, but the number of children is expected to increase.
Many students in Alabama and across the nation go to school in buildings that are falling apart, yet state and local expenditures on school construction are deteriorating, and federal school construction has fell to $10 billion per year. That is about half the amount spent before the recession, which was not enough to fix the problem.
According to many experts, it will cost tax payers $300 billion just to bring our schools up to an acceptable level. That does not include the new facilities that will be necessary to meet the needs of our growing school age population.
My plan for the economy would generate $65 billion per year, for the next ten years, to repair our current schools and build new schools before falling back to $30 billion a year for maintenance and to provide for future growth.
The word technology is defined as the machinery and equipment developed from the application of scientific knowledge, especially in industry. The purpose of our schools is to teach our children to be successful in the future, but it is very hard to train our children in the technology of the future, using the technology of the past.
Students are working on computers that in many cases are more than 10 years old, and there are too many schools that do not have effective wireless access.
How many American businesses could effectively operate in the modern era without computers and wireless internet access? Can our children learn the mastery of the most simple business tools without access and training? Can our children be as successful without these skills?
The answer is no, and that is why my plan calls for an investment of $25 billion a year over the next 10 years, before falling to $15 billion to maintain that new technology and purchase of additional technology as our school age population expands.
Now, Republicans like to holler that throwing money at it will not solve the problem, but there is a difference between throwing money at something and making sound investments in the infrastructure of our education system and the future of our children.
Republicans like to say that we just can’t afford it, but that is just not the case.
We are currently spending $15 billion per year on school infrastructure and technology, that money would remain, which leaves $75 billion.
The $65 billion in new construction contracts would create more than 400,000 new jobs in the construction and construction supply industries, those workers would then pay about $7 billion in taxes. That leaves $68 billion.
The rest could be paid for by changing our tax code to prevent offshore profit shifting, which allows multi-billion dollar companies like GE, Boeing and others to avoid paying any U.S. taxes. Currently many of these companies are not only paying no taxes, they are getting refunds. This needs to end, and education is the best place to invest the new revenue.
It is our obligation to provide our children with a first rate education and rebuilding school infrastructure is a necessary step in ensuring that we meet that duty. We must take every necessary step to ensure the future educational success of our children because the future of our children is the future of our nation.