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Skill or Will?

Being a lifelong possessor of minority opinions in my household, I have entered the fray many times on the topic of socialized medicine. This is not a blog about politics but I think that there are some interesting parallels between the discussion of universal healthcare and public education, specifically the goal of successfully educating ALL students.

I first began considering the possibility of ensuring that all Americans could have access to quality medical care regardless of their ability to pay for it when I was an undergraduate student in the mid-1980's. At that point the question was moot on several fronts. The main factor that made the debate purely academic was that I did not, at that time, believe that we could make the health care guarantee even if we wanted to. That is to say, even if we had the WILL to do it, we lacked the technical ability, or SKILL, to carry it out.

I confess ignorance in the realm of health care, but my sense is that we have progressed rapidly in our ability to share information quickly across great distances, store records and information in ways that are accessible anywhere in the world, and to communicate directly to people who in the past existed "off the grid." The point is, I don't think this question is academic anymore. We now have the SKILL, but lack the WILL.

Despite the claims of public school mission statements, we do not educate ALL children. In the past we seemed to have accepted the fact that there is a "margin of error" or "cost of doing business" that would always be present and would account for the fact that despite our best efforts, some students would fail.

Noted education consultant Carole Helstrom said that "the question is not WHETHER we can successfully educate all children, but rather how we feel about the fact that we haven't thus far."

Like health care, I believe that we have the SKILL to ensure 100% success in education, I think we lack the WILL.

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