Lessons from the Olympics

Geust Columnist | 8/16/2012, 11:58 a.m.

Our Olympians, especially the medalists, are dedicated, hard-working athletes who have committed themselves to achieving excellence. While we give a lot of lip service to educational excellence, the fact is that we are not as dedicated and hard working to that end as we might be.

Who feels so passionately about education that they will flood Board of Education meetings and insist on necessary changes? How many are willing to fight for after-school and summer programs, or provide tutoring? More importantly, how many are willing to change the policy lens through which we view educational issues, insisting that our legislators address issues of education? There is an anti-tax lobby, led by Grover Norquist of the Americans for Tax Reform, that will not endorse candidates unless they pledge not to raise taxes, and the Tea Party that is so effective that they are unseating Republican stalwarts.

Might a group of education advocates come together to develop power as formidable as that of the Tea Party? Might that group decide that any legislator who cannot support a robust educational agenda, is unworthy of re-election? Might we have the will to assert that all children can learn, and then make their learning a priority? We will get what we invest in and, unfortunately, we aren't investing enough in education.

Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. She is President Emerita of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, N.C.