Good Education Costs Money

head shot of Bob Schieffer
Bob Schieffer is the Chief Washington Correspondent of CBS News.

Watching the Senate haggle this week over how much money to set aside to improve our schools caused me to wonder: Why are we so reluctant to spend money on education?

We all agree it's important. We all say our kids come first. Yet our schools are always strapped for cash.

There are probably many reasons but I think I know one: We got good schools on the cheap for so long, that we've forgotten — or never really understood — how much a good educational system costs.

Here's what I mean: Before women were given equal rights and equal access to jobs, there were really only two professions open to them: nursing and teaching. So the best and the brightest became nurses and teachers.

The good news for the rest of us was good health care and good schools and it didn't cost much. Since they couldn't work elsewhere, nurses and teachers were willing to work for very low wages.

But when higher-salary jobs opened up for women, many women took them and when they did, it created a crisis in nursing care and the schools got worse. So why are we surprised?

Testing and accountability and all the things Congress and the president are debating to improve the schools are nice. But it's all small stuff, really — Problem-solving around the edges.

Good schools are the product of good teaching. Until we pay our teachers competitive wages, our schools won't change much.

©MMI Viacom Internet Services Inc., All Rights Reserved