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Education, social issues should be top priorities

In 2000, I retired after 40-some years in teaching. During those years, our schools seemed to prepare many of our youth for a better life. However, since 2000 things have deteriorated to a “less-than-bare-bones” situation.

On July 20, 1969, we felt American education contributed to Neil Armstrong’s stepping on to the moon earlier than the decade President Kennedy pronounced that would require. Back then, the United States could afford to fund its space, military and foreign aid programs without cutting its educational and social program funding.

Now, financial cuts have closed thousands of schools and gutted classroom teaching and support positions in cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and in other urban, suburban and rural districts across the nation.

Can the United States still fund its space, military and foreign aid programs today as it did in the 1960s? Doing so should not come at the expense of education and other social needs in our nation.

At the very best, this is a Hobson’s choice. As our nation deals with economic recovery, reductions in space program, military and foreign aid expenditures should be diverted to improving school programs and dealing with worsening social needs. Curtailment, not elimination, of space program, military and foreign aid is recommended.

Computers, and much more that was developed in our initial space program, changed life forever. The NASA Voyager 1 that has left the solar system will probably have at least an equal impact, requiring a more enlightened population. Thus, our nation cannot risk failing to deal with the increasing problems of students in underfunded classrooms and social problems reducing the quality of life for the masses.

Conrad F. Toepfer


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