Sixty-five years ago, Sputnik shocked us out of complacency. We woke up to the fact that students in other countries studied more than one language. HS Math books were quickly replaced with better ones. More students elected to study biology, chemistry, and physics. Schools suddenly looked for teachers who could teach Russian. President Kennedy decided to shoot for the moon. Afraid that the Soviet Union would bury us, we went to work.
Today, we have slipped back into complacency. Other countries do better at education, while we debate which books students not be allowed to read. College is discouraged; we argue over divisive religious views. Foreign scientists, mathematicians and engineers are better educated than many Americans. Too few Americans study medicine; we threaten doctors with prison for protecting women’s health.
Unless we care, nothing will get better. We need another shock. Perhaps storms, drought, wildfire, and rising temperatures will spur us to act. We need responsible legislators who will reason together and act on facts, rather than foolish ideas, however popular. Too many elected officials lack relevant education, experience, or accomplishments; too many have no more that a BA in political science. This mid-term election is an opportunity to begin to fix that.