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From the Public Education Network Education as National Security
- If he were just starting out as a reporter, Thomas Friedman would want to be covering education -- the area most vital to our national security -- he writes in an opinion piece in The New York Times. He quotes President Obama, who on November 4 cited a military study that concluded 75 percent of young Americans between the ages of 17 to 24 are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit. Friedman underscores what he feels is this administration's most urgent agenda, the elevation of the teaching profession. Countries that are outpacing us in the way they educate their students for so-called 21st-century skills (critical thinking, effective communication, and the ability to collaborate) all "insist" their teachers come from the top one-third of their college graduating classes. For the U.S. to achieve this, Friedman endorses many of the administration's initiatives that would use student achievement data to calculate teacher salaries, and would increase "competition through innovation and charters." But even more than this, Friedman feels that "if we want better teachers we also need better parents -- parents who turn off the TV and video games, make sure homework is completed, encourage reading, and elevate learning as the most important life skill."
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