GOLIS: It's true: Demography is destiny

  • This artwork by Mark Weber relates to the increasing interest in homeschooling and online education.

The three news stories in three separate newspapers seemed to have nothing in common, except that they were all published on the same day last week.

The Press Democrat reported that the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $375,000 on training, mentoring and scholarship programs — part of the collaborative effort called Cradle to Career.

The Wall Street Journal reported that declining birthrates and declining immigration could mean economic trouble for California in the future.

The New York Times reported that the nation's newest "it" city is Nashville, Tenn. A recent Gallup Poll listed the city among the top five regions for job creation. "It's good to be in Nashville right now," Mayor Karl Dean told the Times.

Some will remember that Dean came to Sonoma County last September to talk up the importance of education in building a successful community. "You've got to have a thriving economy," he told community leaders, "and schools are a big part of it."

For a long time, of course, city and county officials in California couldn't be bothered with conversations about public education. In a state awash in government agencies — including 40 school districts in Sonoma County — education was somebody else's problem.

It never made sense to blame schools alone for declining student performance. Many factors — healthy families, safe neighborhoods, nutrition, quality health care and more — influence student success. But scapegoating schools became the path of least resistance.

Now we're coming to learn that it's important for all of us to support education — a point made several times last week as county supervisors approved their new education initiative. (Full disclosure: One of the beneficiaries, Scholarship Sonoma County, is affiliated with Community Foundation Sonoma County, where I sit on the board of directors.)

If, as is said, demography is destiny, we have a lot to talk about in California.

The Wall Street Journal reminded us that millions of baby boomers are heading toward retirement, leaving someone else to do the work and to pay the taxes. Who will that be?

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