SUBJECT: The Big One
Roy! Guv-nor! How's it going? Eli driving you crazy yet?
Listen, I know it's been tough-sledding at Ed in '08 making education a top-tier issue in the election. Maybe the general will bring you better luck. But it's hard, what with the sinking economy, war in Iraq, worries about health care, $4/gallon gas, etc. I see you're making lemonade out of lemons, though, trying to link the education issue to the economy. That's smart. Plays on people's fears. It worked back in the 80s (The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming!) and it could work today (The Chinese are coming! The Indians are coming!). That just might spark enough interest to get you through November.
But I understand that you have ambitions to keep up the advocacy long past this election cycle. And that's where you've got a problem. For better or worse, eventually, the economy is going to turn around. The housing crisis will end, jobs will come back, and the American people will lose focus. Rather than fretting about competing with the rest of the world, their education concerns will turn to stupid worries about the "crisis of energy drinks" and such. (Remember the big education issue of the mid-90s? School uniforms, for Pete's sake!)
What you need, Roy, is something that scares the heck out of people and isn't going away anytime soon. A real existential threat. I've got it.
No kidding. Look, my Atlantic arrived yesterday (it's not online yet) and right there on the cover it says: "It's Inevitable: Asteroids with the power to annihilate us will come this way. Can NASA divert them before it's too late?"
And let me tell you, as scary as that cover was, reading the article didn't make me feel any better. We're in trouble, Roy--big trouble!
But here's the rub: some ten-year-old sitting in a classroom in Peoria might be the key to figuring out how to save the world. But only if she gets a great math and science education. Catch my drift? That's only going to happen if her schools are held accountable to high, common standards; if there's extra time for learning (about rockets and astronomy especially!); if her teachers get rewarded for their performance. In other words:
IF WE DON'T REFORM OUR SCHOOLS, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.
So that's my advice, Roy. Start talking up the asteroid threat. Test it out. I bet it plays well. Cut a couple of commercials and you'll see education rocket right to the top of the priority list.
P.S. I think our invitation to the Ed in '08 Bloggers Summit must have gotten lost. (You don't still use snail mail, do you?)
Photo by Flickr user snakeyes-man.