Ask a million different people what America’s number-one problem is and you’ll probably get a million different answers. But at the root of most of our troubles is one thing: lack of education. People cling to false beliefs and become susceptible to propaganda and deception when they haven’t developed the skills to critically examine their own preconceptions, much less the barrage of lies that hits us every day from politicians and the mass media. Learning career skills is necessary, but so is having a powerful intellectual toolbox. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”
That’s easier said than done, of course. Just checking test scores and scolding teachers isn’t going to cut it. Building a smarter country means providing better access to education at all ages and economic levels. Since today’s students are the future backbone of the country, funding education is not frivolous government spending; it’s a crucial investment. Parents and teachers must possess the means and inclination to support learning from a young age. Public schools must have the funding they need to give individual students adequate attention. And in America no one should have to rule out college because their parents aren’t rich enough.