Okay, I admit it, I am a Tom Friedman groupie and if you fall into that category then you will instantly recognize the title of this post as being the title of the Op Ed piece that Friedman wrote for the Sunday NY Times at the end of June.
If you haven't seen this piece then as both as a business leader not to mention a concerned citizen I very much suggest you check it out.
If you don't have the time, the gist of the article is about what Friedman (and others) feel is needed to overcome our current economic woes.
Essentially, the point he makes is that the benchmark UVP that the U.S. has is its creatvity, especially in the creation of breakthrough technology. Not that this by itself is "the answer" as we all know, but it is certainly an essential element.
To help underscore his point, there is what I thought was a great quote at the beginning of the piece in which Friedman quotes Craig Barrett, the former chairman of Intel, who when Tom asked him what he thought the "way out" was said: "Any American kid who wants his driver's license has to finish high school. No diploma - no license. Hey, why would we want to put a kid who can barely add, read or write behind the wheel of a car?"
A tad of an over-simplification for sure, but an attention grabber that helps us to foucs on what I think is the real elephant in the room - the state of education in our country.
If you buy the argument that the world is well into a knowledge driven economy then you would certainly get the point that Barrett was making and one with which I am sure Friedman agrees.
A sample for those who like stats:
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development places the United States 18th among the 36 nations examined, USA Today reported ...And these are just percentages and say nothing about the "quality" of each. I often wonder if in many high schools they don't give away as many diplomas as are really earned.
Headed to the top of the heap is South Korea where 93 percent of high school students graduate on time compared with the United States where 75 percent receive their diplomas.
I also often wonder why it is that the American business community and most especially those with global footprints don't do far more to lobby and $upport an education system that is desperately deficient.
To say that it is in their self-interest is the understatement of week!