Sports isn’t the only game we’re playing

Last century when I was attending school, life seemed simpler and I didn’t give any thought to global competition. I recently read that Chinese students are snatching up even more seats in US colleges because American students have a tough time beating those foreign students' perfect SAT scores. College tuition isn't the only thing increasing...check out how many college students speak with a foreign accent. 

Life as I once knew it no longer exists. Middle class jobs that were once available and didn’t require a college degree are far fewer. Now global competition for high tech jobs makes having a college degree even more vital. College costs may be high, but lack of employable skills can cost far more over a lifetime.

This means that what students learn in elementary and secondary education is critical.  Looking at what our competitors overseas are doing in school to prepare their students shows an academic regimen that is “foreign” to our way of thinking.  Serious academic study. Serious results too.

This isn’t just a funding problem, or a teacher problem, or a family problem, it’s a problem of recognizing that times have changed and if we want to stay in the game we need to see what our opponent is doing. If we hope to play and win, we need to develop a skill set that matches theirs.

Just as the government can’t bail us out of our monumental debt, they can’t solve our educational crisis either. It’s a mindset change that’s needed. Students need to see far enough ahead to become responsible students now. Their counterparts already have.

So as they head back to classes, part of the job of every American is to see what we can do. Parents need to provide support—financial, emotional and academic. Teachers need to be ready to meet the needs of students. And students need to see what’s on the line—a bleak future if they fail. As taxpayers we need to ensure that education is meeting global demands.

Foreign students are playing to win. Maybe we've been too busy to notice how the game has changed. Not every student will care, but to lose now costs more than it once did and if the United States loses no one really knows what our future will hold.

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