Last month in his second of eight State of the Union speeches, President Obama talked about the sobering fact that countries like China and India have realized the importance of educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science, and they are in a much better position to compete for new technology jobs.
He also said that over the next decade, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education, but that as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even graduating from high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations, and America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. He said that call is the current generation’s Sputnik moment, and that we need to reach to reach the level of research and development that helped the U.S. win the space race.
“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair,” he said.Apparently, a high school north of Dallas did not receive that message.
Allen High School in Texas is building a new $60 million football stadium that will seat 18,000 people. The new stadium will feature a multi-million dollar video scoreboard, a two level press box with film deck and observation deck, home side reserved seating with seat backs and 4,500 total parking spaces.
The stadium will be paid for with a $119 million bond approved by voters in in May 2009 that won with 63 percent of the vote. But in fairness, not only will the stadium be built, but the money will also be used to build an auditorium for fine arts and a transportation service center for the district.
It seems a little strange when Texas has one of the highest dropout rates in the country and the state is facing massive cuts in education that $60 million will be spent on football. In fact, the very district the high school is a part of is facing an $23.2 million reduction in state funding in its 2011-2012 budget.
The current Texas state budget proposal includes $31 billion in cuts in response to a $15 billion to $27 billion budget shortfall. That could mean a $10 billion cut to Texas public education spread out over two years. According to the local newspaper, school staff members have already started work on a mechanism for staff reductions. That can’t bode well for education, but again, in fairness, Allen High School is among one of the best academic high schools in the state.