One reason our government is less popular than anthrax is that Congress has become a temple of ignorance. We’re suffering massive unemployment, rampant home foreclosures — most resulting from outrageous medical expenses — and numerous other woes, and Congress reacts during the seven days remaining in its current session by turning its attention to the question of life on other planets.
No kidding. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, will head these hearings. Rep. Smith is so skeptical of climate science — his position bolstered by $500,000 in campaign donations from fossil fuel industries — that last month he issued a subpoena against the Environmental Protection Agency, accusing it of using “secret science” to develop its new set of air quality regulations. Rather than address Earth’s peril, Rep. Smith will search for new planets to desecrate.
What else can we expect from such “leaders,” having gradually devalued education? Results of recent international testing show that in math, our 15-year-olds ranked 36th among 64 nations, placing between Lithuania and the Slovak Republic. In science, the U.S. ranked 28th and 24th in reading. Even Vietnam, a poor developing country, has higher average scores than the U.S. in math and science.
I fear we’ll react to this alarming news with a parade of innovative educational philosophies. But nothing will smarten us more than valuing education itself, which means making it affordable, convenient and, actually, a requisite for democracy.
Rep. Smith’s own website states, “There are few things more valuable to a community than educated residents.”
That being the case, when savvy voters finally send him home, it’ll be San Antonio’s loss and America’s gain.
Jeff Kane lives in Nevada City.