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By Thomas F. O'Neill

Education is Vital for America’s Future

The United States is slowly bouncing back from one of the worse recessions in our Nation’s History. Our country still has a long way to go though in terms of a full economic recovery. Many States are also facing huge budget deficits and the State of Pennsylvania where I was born and raised is no exception.

I have been reading online about Gov. Tom Corbett’s current budget proposal to slash Pennsylvania’s education funding by fifty percent. To say that such a proposal would be detrimental to the Pennsylvania School Districts would be an understatement, especially, for the Pennsylvania coal region.

There has also been talk about cutting the head start programs in some of the School Districts due to budget shortfalls. In my opinion that would be a huge mistake also because early childhood education especially the head start program is paramount for the Child’s educational development.

I am no longer living in Pennsylvania or the United States for that matter. I have been working as a teacher at the Suzhou International Foreign Language School in China for several years now. I am witnessing firsthand how education can change the course of a nation and lift millions of people out of poverty. Here in China K-12 students have twelve hour school days they go to School from 8AM to 8PM. They have 43 more school days per year than American children.

Shanghai, China last year achieved the highest test scores in the world in reading comprehension, writing, math, and science. They accomplished this with English as their second language.

The Chinese are not smarter than Americans they are just better prepared academically. Many Asian’s are coming to the U.S. and going to our top Schools on full scholarships. The sad thing about that though when they complete their academics in our American Universities, our Federal Government makes it extremely difficult for them to remain in America. That is so unfortunate because their knowledge and educational skills can truly benefit our country.

Chinese engineers who earned their engineering degrees in our American Schools built the world’s fastest Super Computer. Their computer design wasn’t built in America though it was built in China. This Superfast computer can make 2,700 trillion calculations per second and no other computer in the world can do that. It would take a laptop computer ‘480 years’ to accomplish what China’s new Super Computer can accomplish in ‘one second.’

Chinese engineers who graduated from American Universities are in the process of building commuter trains that can reach top speeds of approximately 500 miles per hour. Unfortunately, those trains are not being built in America they are being built in China. Our country could have benefited a great deal from those engineers knowledge and skills. Imagine taking a train from New York City to Los Angeles in 4 hours.

The China Government has people on its payroll to actively find and recruit people from the U.S. and various other countries that they feel can aid their educational facilities and help prepare their students for the global market. This is also adding to the ‘Brain Drain’ in America because China is hiring the people that should be preparing U.S. students for the global market.

In 2010 there were 34 other countries that achieved higher test scores than our American students in reading comprehension, writing, math, and science. They accomplished this with English as their second language. This is truly giving the U.S. a ‘dumbing down’ image in the eyes of the world.

The State of Pennsylvania shouldn’t be cutting its educational funding but rather the State needs to develop resources to enhance the educational opportunities for its citizens. Education is vital for the Pennsylvania coal region where I born and raised. It is also vital for our Nation as a whole because it provides people with the means, skills, and opportunities to better themselves.

Always with love from Suzhou, China
Thomas F O'Neill

    Phone: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

    Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


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