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The Link Between K-12 Education and National Security

• Patricia Levesque

Education gives children the capacity to succeed in life, and their combined success ensures prosperity for our nation.

We all understand that. Now take out the word “prosperity” and substitute “security.’’

The link between K-12 education and national security is one not often discussed or even considered by those advocating for reform. But the correlation is very real and creates yet another compelling argument for the reform movement.

In 2012, a Council on Foreign Relations task force, co-chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, examined this issue.

mooc image1In a report titled U.S. Education and National Security, the task force made this bleak observation: “Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America’s security. Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy.”

Smarter weapons require smarter soldiers. The threat of cyber-attacks requires highly skilled cyber warriors. Security agencies and the State Department require analysts and linguists. Defense contractors require a new generation of employees proficient in math, science and engineering.

And most importantly, a capable national security apparatus requires a strong economy to sustain it. In the 21st century, economic strength depends on academic strength.

To promote knowledge and awareness about these issues, the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) is offering a free online course featuring national experts in the field, including Joel Klein. The course is part of ExcelinEd’s broader online learning initiative called EdPolicy Leaders Online.

Called “Securing Our Nation’s Future: The Urgent Need for Education Reform,’’ the course will explain the threat a failing education system has upon the strength and cohesiveness of our nation.

The course went live today but you can still enroll. It consists of five easy to navigate modules that will take no more than an hour each to complete. You will have the opportunity to hear from many accomplished education reformers all in one place and earn a certificate of completion.

The course is our call to action to you: we want to provide you with the fundamental understanding of the core issues surrounding the U.S. education system through the lens of varying perspectives across state borders.  I hope this course will inspire you to take action to fight for education reform for our children and for the strength of our nation.

About the author

Patricia Levesque @levesquepat

Patricia is the Chief Executive Officer for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She served as Governor Jeb Bush’s deputy chief of staff for education, enterprise solutions for government, minority procurement, and business and professional regulation. Previously, Patricia served six years in the Florida Legislature in the Speakers Office and as staff director over education policy. Contact Patricia at