Education: the Best Investment
As we enter the twenty-first century, it is clear that education is, indeed, the best investment that we can make, for an information economy depends upon a knowledgeable, skilled, educated workforce. As Gates says,
Today, at the end of another century, change is in the air again. People are wondering whether schools are giving their children the skills they’ll need to succeed, this time in the Information Age. A new technology revolution is transforming business and putting new demands on our educational system—even while the technology itself is providing the means for meeting these demands. The people who resist change will be confronted by the growing number of people who see that better ways of learning are available thanks to technology. . . .
In the U.S., demand for a competitively educated workforce is high. Parents are insecure about their children’s employment prospects, having read repeatedly that there will be “two societies” in the future: high-paid knowledge workers and low-paid service workers. (212-13)
Obviously, education is the best investment that we can make in such a situation. The better educated our students are, the better we will perform economically.
Gates makes a strong case for making new technology part of our investment in education. He cites the example of the Christopher Columbus Middle School in Union City, New Jersey, where the local telephone company, Bell Atlantic, conducted an experiment in computerization and networking. The school was in trouble. Dropout rates were high and test scores were low. Bell Atlantic funded the installation of networked computers linking students' homes to classrooms, teachers, administrators, and the Net. Teachers, parents, students, and administrators were trained to use the computers. Two years later, “The dropout rate and absenteeism were both almost zero” (233). Gates tells of a company named Academic Systems, in Palo Alto, whose interactive Algebra...