Even more so today, the strength of our economy depends on innovative ideas, ethical management and conscientious citizens. In part, Lyndon Johnson proposed the Great Society for the sake of rebuilding our nation's internal strength. He also did it because it was a moral imperative. While the Constitution empowers the government to "promote the general welfare," never had this authority been used to empower the people in such a dramatic way.
The government also took on a new role in shaping educational policy. In the 1965 education act, the role was to assist states, school districts, and children in poverty. As evidenced by the biographies of our next president and first lady, the Great Society created a system that ensures educational opportunities regardless of race, gender and class. We have yet to fulfill that promise. Yet, we have reason to celebrate the gains that were achieved in these reformations of our society. Today, our nation's greatness is threatened because we failed to consistently value and invest in human capital, education and training.
During President-elect Obama's campaign we heard "Yes We Can." Our 20th century history reminds us that, indeed, we already have.
Today, there are two camps of thought. One is that Vermont needs to cut spending and taxes. The other is that our current economic woes can only be resolved by a massive investment in human capital. In the short run, we must attend to the needs of the poor, the unemployed and the needy. In the long run, we need knowledgeable citizens, prepared to build new businesses and we need astute leaders.
Our history reminds us that we must not shrink away. We must invest in the knowledge of our people.
Kendra Rickerby is an English teacher at South Burlington High School. She coordinates the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) project and is secretary for the Vermont-Honduras chapter of Partners for the Americas. Her students help senior citizens navigate the Medicaid D website to obtain more affordable prescriptions.
Editor's Note: Guest Viewpoints do not necessarily reflect the views of the New Market Press staff. Readers are encouraged to submit their opposing viewpoints to: firstname.lastname@example.org.