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Bringing this back to the beginning … In my lifetime, two countries that were little more than afterthoughts for most Americans, India and China, are front and center in national debates.

I am an immigrant from India, whose parents moved here for a better life. Back when I was growing up, people used to tell me to “Go back to India.” The interesting thing now is that young Indians who were born in the U.S. here are going back to India to work. Both nations are producing large numbers of engineers, scientists, etc. and these scientists and engineers, unlike the recent past, are staying in these countries. Some folks want to turn back the clock. Some folks characterize this as an apocalypse. Some folks want to rant and rave. Others want to bury their heads in the sand.

I don’t think the sky is falling but there is a challenge. California is the 6th largest economy in the world. It is the center of technological innovation in the United States and the world. But if you read the studies mentioned in the previous posting, it is characterized by an education system that is deeply dysfunctional at the top. People love to spend their time getting into spitting matches about local education issues.

The same amount of hatred, anger, abuse and sheer pointless ranting is truly amazing. If it wasn’t so counterproductive, it would be laughable. It would be great if folks could consider whether we are really preparing our children for a different world and whether the current education system in California is allowing school districts to do that. Both my wife and I are teachers who have taught out of state and there are real, deeply disturbing differences between what schools get in a state like Massachusetts and what they get in California.

Some of this is financial. This state woefully under-funds education.

Some of it is regulatory. I don’t see any financial fix on the horizon but we can work on the regulatory part. Districts and schools should have more discretion to innovate.

Out of state teachers with desperately needed skills in math and science or mid-career folks with expertise in areas such as the arts should not have to face the California credentialing gauntlet to work in our schools. Students should be able to intern in a biotech firm and take a community college biology course without their district losing funding.

It goes on an on. The gist is that innovation implies a strong measure of freedom and that is what I think school districts need a lot more of from Sacramento and Washington D.C.

— ARUN RAMANATHAN

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