Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Don't Forget the Social Infrastructure

President Obama has an ambitious and necessary plan to create jobs and stimulate the economy by investing in infrastructure repair and development. That's all well and good, but shoring up the social infrastructure-access to basic health care, good school etc.-is just as important as roads and bridges. Without that, we will not have the skilled, healthy workforce needed to do those jobs, now or in the future.

Take for example the much-discussed lab that went to Kansas rather than Georgia. While folks are focused on the group protesting the plan in Georgia, we have just sort of skipped over one of the other key reasons the Georgia site lost out: a less skilled workforce. And why is that? Years of neglect and a current Governor who brags when our schools move from 49th to 48th. Woo-hoo! Let's have a party! Maybe even a prom at the Governor's mansion. Maybe we can play "Go Fish." Embarrassing, isn't it?

Seriously, protests or not, do you really think a company would locate a lab here if they found the workforce lacking? That's not a problem you can solve in 9 months, but it is an indication of the long term neglect of public education in Georgia and misdirection of our schools. I guarantee you one thing: if Georgia schools were a bridge, you'd take one look and refuse to drive across. Yet, we depend on our schools to be the bridge for our children to their future and the engine that drives economic development. But, with more cuts looming, we sure don't act like it.

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