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Education Linked to Economic Recovery


New York Governor David Paterson praised educators as the key to renewed prosperity in the United States on March 6, in a keynote address delivered to the Celebration of Teaching and Learning education conference.

“People wonder, as they fear and feel anxiety over our future, whether we can return prosperity to this country in the 21st century,” he said. “I believe that we actually don’t have to look to 21st century ideas to accomplish this. We can go back to the 19th century, where some of the most poignant history will help us.”

The governor’s speech, in the grand ballroom of the Hilton New York, occurred on the first day of the two-day conference, which was sponsored by public television stations Thirteen/WNET and WLIW21. The event, which featured 93 hands-on workshops and more than 100 vendors, also was sponsored by Fordham’s Graduate School of Education (GSE).

Paterson cited The Race Between Education and Technology(Bellknap, 2008) by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz as a powerful argument for increasing aid to education.

Goldin and Katz, he said, argue that the industrializing of America caused it to be an economic superpower, but that industrialization came from education, specifically from the high school movement.

That movement dictated that neighborhoods, towns and villages of more than 500 people have a public high school. Massachusetts adopted the measure first, and New York immediately followed. The results, he said, were spectacular.

“By 1960, 70 percent of American children graduated from high school, and by comparison, in Great Britain, only 9 percent of 17 years olds were even still in high school. This is when we became the economic leaders,” he said. “We have stopped putting the focus and priority on the preeminence of education.”

As proof, the governor noted that whereas America led the world with young people from 25 to 34 having bachelor’s degrees or higher in 1998, the nation has slumped to ninth in 2008.

If we continue at this rate, he said, the United States is projected to be 20th in the world by 2018. This is why he lobbied so hard for education to be included in the recently passed economic stimulus bill, which includes more than $3.5 billion for New York; $2.4 billion designated to remove any cuts in the state budget.

“Education comes from the Latin word educo, or educare, which means to lead out. The best way to lead ourselves out of this economic crisis is to make sure we have the best educated young work force in the world, and then we’ll solve any problem put in front of us, as America has before.”

Earlier in the afternoon, attendees packed a conference room to hear “Our Changing Understanding of Leadership,” a panel moderated by James Hennessy, Ph.D., dean of the Graduate School of Education.

Panelists included William F. Baker, Ph.D., president emeritus of WNET and Claudio Acquaviva S.J. Chair and Journalist in Residence at Fordham; Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of the New York State United Teachers; Ernest A. Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators; and Sandra J. Stein, CEO of the NYC Leadership Academy.


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