Secretary Rice: Education Is a National Security Issue

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
October 23, 2008
Secretary Rice at Women's Conference

Yesterday, Secretary Rice participated in a conversation with PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra K. Nooyi and CNN News Anchor Campbell Brown at the Women's Conference in Long Beach, CA. During the discussion, Secretary Rice spoke about role models, future plans, women's empowerment, and why education is a national security issue. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:

MS. BROWN:You touched on this a little bit right when we started: education. And we were talking earlier about how important that is to you and something you want to focus on in your next life.

SECRETARY RICE: Right. Afterwards, yes.

MS. BROWN: But more and more women today, we know are earning advanced degrees. The downside to some of the research is – there was one report out recently that girls are dropping out of high school at rates almost as high as boys, particularly girls of color. And what struck me is when you and I were talking earlier, you described this as a national security issue.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes.

MS. BROWN: Education.

SECRETARY RICE: Absolutely.

MS. BROWN: What do you mean by that?

SECRETARY RICE: I think the state of education, K through 12 education in our country, and frankly for underprivileged kids, the appalling state of education is a national security issue. (Applause.) You know, I’ve long been an educator and it breaks my heart that there could be very talented kids who might be the next Nobel Prize winner in the United States in chemistry or the next great composer in America, and they’ll never get discovered because they’re trapped in some public school that is just basically warehousing them. That makes me very, very sad.

But I’ll tell you, as Secretary of State, it makes me terrified. Because I know that if we cannot do better in educating our people – and I mean all of our people – then we are not going to be competitive in an economy, a global economy that is very competitive, where the numbers of engineers and scientists in other countries are outstripping the numbers that we train in the United States several, several fold. And if we can’t compete and if our people can’t compete for the highest level jobs, we’re going to be protectionist, we’re going to turn inward; the United States is not going to lead.

But there’s something more important. You know, I – Charlotte Shultz, George Shultz’s wife, I just ran into backstage, and George Shultz is one of my great mentors. And George told me, he said, “Being Secretary of State is the greatest job in government.” He should have just said, “It’s the greatest job,” because you get to represent this extraordinary country. I really love America for what it is. And you go out and you represent the United States and you recognize that what people respect about the United States – yes, our military strength, yes, our economic power – but really the values that we espouse.

And by that I mean that people really do believe that this is a meritocracy, that you can come here from anyplace, from India or from Africa or from Latin America, whether you are the person who makes your way across the desert to make five dollars instead of fifty cents, or whether you are the founder – one of the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, who comes from Russia and founds Google here. People believe that in America, you really can succeed on merit.

It’s also a part of our national myth. And look, a myth is not something that’s not true. It’s a part of who you are. And what is our national myth? The log cabin. You can be born in a log cabin and you can still be president. But the only thing that makes that true is equal access to education for everybody. It’s the only thing that makes it true. (Applause.)

And you know, in a great multiethnic democracy where we are not bound by blood, where we’re not bound by nationality, where we’re not bound by religion, you can be Christian or Jew or Muslim and – or nothing at all, and be American. You can be of African descent or Mexican descent or Indian descent and be American. The only thing that binds us together is the belief that it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you’re going. And if we can’t keep that true for every American, we’re going to lose who we are, and then we won’t lead. And so it is, for me, the most pressing national security issue.

Read the full conversation.

Comments

Comments

Jonathan
|
Texas, USA
October 24, 2008

Jonathan in Texas writes:

I have always considered Secretary Rice as the best figure in this administration. I am glad to hear that a huge political figure like Secretary Rice is ready to lend a hand to education.

The education system under NCLB set education back rather than enhance it. Teachers are teaching a standardized test that does nothing for students or teachers. What our education system does is make students unprepared for college. Students attending college have minimal study skills and contain high school knowledge of a high school standardized test they prepared for all through their educational careers until they attend college.

The only discouraging factor is the better the scores, the more federal money that will be contributed into a school. So let's penalize the students who attend a school who don't score well by not funding those schools properly. Shouldn't we try to help those students more? The teachers and administration knows that they have to do well on these tests to get money so they add pressure on themselves to get this done.

Education is not supposed to be about pressure due to test scores to get federal money, it is supposed about educating the students! Let's allow administration, teachers and students to work together and discuss curriculum. Put power back into the teachers' hands. It is sad when a teacher has to tell their students, to tell their parents, if they have a problem with the curriculum in the school or anything that pertains to the classroom, which the parent has to mention it at a PTA meeting. That is ridiculous.

Let's fix education. Let's encourage students in high school to attend college rather than focus on a standardized test. Let's focus on the enrichment of a student! The more educated people we have in society, the better society will become.

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
October 25, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

I had the honor of having Se-jin Lee as my roommate second semester in a private college in Phila. He was from South Korea and was publicly educated there, though from a wealthy family.

Before the semester was out, he went from freshman year Chemical Engineering (which this college was known for) to the Second half of sophomore at MIT. He already had all the chemistry of our freshman year that was 1968. We became close and I could not believe how easily he passed the MIT requirements...in one weekend there...and left our school. When I asked him how it could be and how was he educated he responded: We don't waste time and energy on worthless information. Who cares about world history, it is not going to help today, who cares about political science unless your going to be a politician, who cares about things which have no relevance to the productive nature of your talents? English was mandatory and another langue skill was also required as Korea already knew of it's reliance on Capitalist interest outside the countries boundaries. THIS WAS 1968...

We agreed then, that while Americans had a 'broader' range of knowledge, we were ill prepared for specific occupations in Math and Chemistry where it would be their decided future...even I, who was Southern Schooled in a Public dominion, already had our English 101 and English Comp. 101 as the Commonwealth of Virginia taught only the BASICS and taught them well...we didn't have a lot of superfluous knowledge to retain....

We are not losing our educational values; we just lost control of our system. OUR YOUTH DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING...we are being beaten by specificity of knowledge, not lack of it....other countries directed their energies toward specific fields...we ADDED more to what existed.

Our teachers are not the problem; our students are not the problem our Methodology is.

What is it about America that we think we KNOW EVERYTHING or Should know everything?...Being well rounded at the cost of our Job skills and the problems that Ms Rice so well address's seems secondary to re organizing the direction of specific knowledge at some point in schools...like from the seventh grade perhaps. Start to be more specific in adapting to personal skills needed and forget all the wasted information jammed down our youths throat. They can always pick up what they put aside latter in life.

America's teachers are as qualified as any, our youth as qualified as any...it is the educational requirements which need to be rethought. Not everyone has to be a chemist, not everyone has to be a computer tech., not everyone has the capacity for everything, so why waste what talent we can develop?

More specific educational requirements for certain skills with less non specific knowledge bases, but with complete basic understanding levels at lower grades....

What Ms Rice is addressing is the following:

http://release.theplatform.com/content.select?pid=x7aVOMrlfkkijQwcLllwk6...

This is quite interesting ...

ON HOMELAND SECURITY: Given what Ms Rice states, is not the Creation of a full spectrum of jobs just as important as better educational directives?

AND IT WORKS BOTH WAYS: One of the biggest problems we have in decision making is that certain elements at the highest level DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE VALID INFORMATION from those under them or not as well educated as they...she knows this is a fact. We have field agents in many agencies who are more qualified, reliable and have American interest at heart than those seated above them; yet, are not considered to move up without 'proper' educational expertise, nor is their advise put in perspective or given the validity it needs to have. Peer egos often taint information.

One example is our Para Military Units who gave their situational and In House expertise of governmental problems in Afghanistan and Iraq over two years ago, one over three years ago. They were simply ignored. Others ran the red flag on noting one major Powers movement of funds, mandated governmental control, manufacturing, natural resources and military buildup long before problems occurred. Since they did not have the same level of education or past possible discretions, their information was taken lightly and it all came about to play...It works both ways.
We have too many overeducated perhaps, where we should not and their conceit or egos developed via their personal backgrounds, which includes their educational level when it taints information is just as much a Security Risk as anything in our Great Society.

What Ms Rice is addressing is the following:

http://release.theplatform.com/content.select?pid=x7aVOMrlfkkijQwcLllwk6...

This is quite interesting ...

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
October 27, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

So often in my lifetime I've been told on the job, "You're not paid to think." So I started my own buisiness. Now I think to get paid.

Now there's your book learning and then there's on the job training and basicly for an individual to succeed, they've got to find inspiration eventually from one method or another to get a life in modern society.

Government can provide the opportunity, but parents must inspire a love of learning and honest work for their kid's heads to be screwed on right in the first place when sent off to school in the morning to get an education.

catherine
|
Philippines
October 28, 2008

Catherine in the Philippines writes:

you government is always so very busy with so many things. like how to have more allied countries and most of all, how to make your country more powerful, right? but you were forgetting one so very important thing. i don't know but it sadden me so much because i really am not sure if your government had just forgotten this very important matter or your government just don't care or what. i really am not sure what was really the matter with your country why ther are doing this. maybe your government is just trying to ignore the matter because it really a shame to a very powerful country to have this kind of blasphemy attached to you government. your country is trying to have more alliances but is forgetting one very important detail to the history of you country. THE ABANDONED G.I. KIDS IN THE PHILIPPINES!!!!!!!!!

Maria M.
|
Russia
October 28, 2008

Maria in Russia writes:

I love Condoleeza Rice! She the great woman!!!

Jonathan
|
Texas, USA
October 29, 2008

Jonathan in Texas writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee -- I don't believe we should focus on what a student wants to become in middle school or even in early high school. You know how many times students will change their mind? The more they change their minds, the longer the set back for what they want to do later.

College is SUPPOSED to prepare and educate them for the skills necessary to become what they choose in the future. I say suppose because not even in college do some students know what they want. I just don't believe schools should become like a vocational school in middle school or high school. I hate to use myself as an example but I wanted to be a lawyer for along time during middle school and high school. By my senior year of high school, I wanted to become an accountant. I started college as an accounting major and took my first classes for it and hated it. I didn't realize that I wanted to become a teacher until my 3rd year of college. Of course this is my experience and your roommate has his own experience but the majority of students are indecisive of what they want to become.

I think students should have general education through high school. I don't think that we should jam the information but I think standardized test assessments that are in place jam information. I think in college general education should be minimized but not abolished. If a student is indecisive of their future, general education might help them decide what they would like to do.

Anna
|
District Of Columbia, USA
November 7, 2008

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

I really appreciated this conversation. What each of the women said really spoke to me. As an educator, I could not agree more with Secretary Rice: education is a national security issue. I wish Secretary Rice well in her future endeavors and am pleased that she would devote her future energies to this cause. We have world-class universities, but our primary and secondary schools are in need of reform.

I agree with what some have said in their comments. We do need to do a better job of teaching our students technology, foreign languages and other skill sets that will be applicable in today's "real world." That said, our primary and secondary schools should have well-rounded curriculum that includes not just math and science but also literature and social studies -- don't forget, the past is prologue! Social studies promotes critical thinking skills, which are applicable to any field. I have also been upset by cut backs in art, music, and physical education. These courses are important for young peoples' development.

catherine
|
Philippines
November 11, 2008

Catherine in the Philippines writes:

Sec. Rice, you are after the right of every american kids education in america, but what about the Filipino americans here in the philippines that are also underprivileged, that has no money to study? will you just let them be grabbed off of the opportunity to have the right to education? well, some of those are blacks too who are being more treated badly than the whites. do you have no pity on them? will you not ask the new president of your country to do something about the AMERICAN ABANDONED G.I. KIDS IN THE PHILIPPINES to ease their sufferings? or just ignore them and let them suffer more more? you can e-mail me if you want to know why i am doing this. your questions will never be ignored! thank you!

Maria
|
Russia
November 14, 2008

Maria in Russia writes:

I wish happy birthday, Condoleezza Rice! It great, I wish success! I congratulate with all my heart!!!

.

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