Editorial: God bless taxes

As we’ve reported, lawmakers have killed a $100 million federal program dedicated to advancing school technology as part of about $1 billion in overall reductions to education spending for 2011. Supporters of the Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) program fear its demise could threaten the progress that schools already have made in using technology to enhance teaching and learning.

As ed-tech advocates have noted, it doesn’t make much sense for policy makers to clamor for reforms that will keep U.S. schools competitive with their global counterparts—and then shutter the one federal program that is dedicated to encouraging 21st-century instructional practices.

If corporations really are serious about preparing today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, the first step they should take is to make an adequate investment in the nation’s future, so that federal, state, and local education programs aren’t trampled in the rush to reduce the deficit.

Business leaders understand the importance of investing in their operations in order to be successful. The reason Intel Corp. was able to come out with a revolutionary new computer chip design that will keep it ahead of its rivals (see story) is because it invests millions of dollars per year in research and development. Well, think of public education as the nation’s R&D arm; without it, we don’t stand a chance of competing in the global economy.

Although it’s true that corporations spend millions of dollars in charitable programs, many of which support education, those dollars are funneled to specific projects that match the funder’s interests. Where there are grant winners, there are also losers. In contrast, investing in our nation’s government by paying taxes ensures that the money is spread out more equitably among schools.

Taxes are the price we pay to live and work in a civilized, safe, and prosperous society. We can debate what constitutes a “fair” share of taxes, or what those funds should be spent on. In fact, that’s our right as Americans. But it’s just plain un-American to avoid paying taxes whatsoever, and—even worse—to collect record profits while sticking the American public with the bill. It does no good for the nation’s fiscal health, or its future stability.

We recently reported on dismal results from a recent national exam testing students’ knowledge of civics. But these results can hardly be seen as a surprise, when the nation’s own captains of industry—the role models for today’s students—have failed so miserably at the topic themselves.

Dennis Pierce

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