Yesterday at the Huffington Post, John M. Burns wrote about a new report on education from the NAACP.
Both Burns’ post and the NAACP’s report are must-reads for anyone concerned about how America can fix its failing education system, but I want to highlight one part of Burns’ piece that dovetails with one of IIA’s main missions as an organization. Burns writes:
Clearly, success in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) disciplines not only requires the preparedness, education and skills necessary to navigate these waters but it is essential that the technological landscape provide the medium for growth and innovation. At a time when we as a nation have collectively conceded that we are lagging behind the world in these key disciplines, we cannot afford to be confronted with undue government and regulatory restrictions on the digital world. These types of restriction will do nothing but hinder our own sustainability and competitiveness in the global world. It is critical that U.S. policymakers show that it is our nation’s unequivocal policy to avoid undue regulation of the Internet at all levels of government. And that means the Federal Communications Commission and other regulatory bodies must invest in the technological infrastructure to ensure that the regulatory environment meets the needs of our new technological reality while simultaneously removing old restrictions that suppress technological expansion and innovation.
Burns is exactly right. There’s no question America’s position in the global economy will depend on a healthy workforce fluent in the STEM disciplines. But just as important is the underlying infrastructure that workforce will rely on in order to keep America competitive. And key to upgrading our nation’s communications backbone will be billions in investment from the private sector — investment outdated and unnecessary regulations can easily stifle.
Well over a century ago, the government and the private sector made a commitment to connect everyone with a telephone. Now we need to make another commitment to meet our new technological reality.
Investing in our IP future will be more than an investment in our communication infrastructure. It will be an investment in education. And as Burns and the NAACP both rightly point out, that’s an investment we should all be able to agree on.