The hardest thing about imagining the future of public education is that the present is so terribly bleak, says Mike Cassidy, columnist for Mercury News. Budgets are being slashed, schools closed, teachers laid off. Comparisons of students around the world show that our students are falling behind. Employers, tech industry employers in particular, are squawking about how we simply are not preparing U.S. kids to be the workers they’ll need. How can we think about tomorrow when sometimes it seems we won’t last through today?

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staff and wire services reports