Let the Politicians Meet the Academics in Order to Lead this Nation —  or Let Them All Go Home

Learning never stops. Technological advances make it possible for anyone with Internet access and a computer to gain new skills through taking online courses. What else never stops? Selling. 

Business owners bring products to a global audience of consumers via a well-designed website. However, not all who live in the United States of America have access, or easy access, to the technological advances radically transforming our society, making it more connected and open. In parts of the United States, geographic isolation can make it difficult to gain access to the latest learning technology. When geographic isolation combines with a rapid de-industrialization, communities can suffer for generations as many workers quickly find their skills obsolete. Perhaps this rapid shift from industry to technology illuminates the anxiety at the root of the 2016 Presidential race. 

Parts of the country that have yet to realize the gains technology has brought, risk obsolescence. Be they on the left, or the right, politicians must not gingerly walk a delicate balance to win voters who have yet to realize change. Instead, the next President must extend the hand of gratitude to those who helped create the prosperity that allowed politicians to build this nation. Then, when that extended hand is received, the next President must pull that worker into the new economy. Ready or not. 

The alternative? Stagnation. Plenty of universities, colleges, community colleges, have the committed and capable staff and faculty to bring those regions of the country left out of the technological revolution into the 21st Century.

No Traditional Students

Why should a middle-aged woman face obstacles when attempting to keep her academic and professional skills sharp during the Summer? Unfortunately, many middle-aged women (40-65) in the United States of America face barriers when it comes to enhancing their academic and professional skills and securing networking opportunities. A template exists for what can be a great way to reach out to women, especially women in regions of the country typically isolated from Northern California’s Silicon Valley, and that is Canada’s Ladies Who Code. Domestically, there is Black Girls Code, an organization aimed, not at women, but girls aged 7-17. 

No Excluding Those Who Do Not Fit the Mold

No matter one’s gender, age, zip code, or living situation, toward education attainment must be eliminated in order to perpetuate thriving communities. Unfortunately, gaining access to educational opportunities is not easy for those who do not fit the traditional perception of a college student, someone who is a teenager, or in their early 20s, for example. Why does the myth of the youthful, easily moldable college student persist, especially when research points to the contrary? Is there something inherently better about excluding individuals who do not fit the idealized notion of a college student from participating in college learning?

A septuagenarian friend told me of the challenge he faces trying to gain a library card from a public university library in his neighborhood. The annual cost of the card would significantly detract from his fixed-living expenses. Not all people want to gain knowledge via the Internet. Some like reading books.

Now that technological innovation is the expectation, it is more important than ever to not shut out those who may not quickly make this transition. Presidential candidates (presumptive, or not) must send their emissaries to the small communities in order to network with real people struggling with the intensity of technological and economic change. Let there be more innovation and media centers, more wellness centers, more libraries, more rehabilitation centers, and yes, organic juice bars.

Let the Politicians Meet the Academics in order to Lead this Nation– or Let Them All Go Home

In spite of the dynamic times in which we live, there appears to be a dearth of opportunities for non-traditional academics, professionals, and students. In addition, there appears to be a paucity of Summer STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities for youth and non-youth in underserved regions of this great country.

Let’s not wait until November to change this situation. We need presidential candidates to use their charisma, influence, and power to make real change before the Fall election.
On a recent Saturday, an homage to the glory of the past and a nod to the future.