Election time is upon us again, and we keep hearing the phrase “all elections are local,” meaning how you and I vote depends on what is affecting us in our communities.
More profoundly, elections determine how we mold America’s future and that too comes down to local issues.
French journalist Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, who wrote The American Challenge in 1967 about the dominance of the free-enterprise system, noted that the United States has a unique advantage over the rest of the world—its education system.
And there’s nothing more local than that.
Americans have access to educational opportunities unlike anywhere else in the world, whether it’s public or private high schools, technical or trade institutions, community colleges or universities. During the past half-century, college graduates grew from 8% of the U.S. population to just under 38%, nearly a four-fold increase.
During those decades, American innovation also exploded. Consider how computer chips have transformed commerce around the world—from iPhones to space exploration.
AMG continually emphasizes that U.S. economic growth is dependent on labor-force growth and productivity increases. But Baby Boomers are retiring, and population growth is slowing, meaning America must have productivity growth to offset declines in worker numbers.
Productivity comes through technological advances and education increases, from preschool to post-graduate programs. Unfortunately, the system is failing in the lower levels. Across the country, about a quarter of black and Hispanic students aren’t graduating from high schools. In some rural areas, kids of all races are struggling.
Education decline is a local issue. And that’s where the answers must come from.