Education and National Security

Two perspectives on national security stand out to me.

  • Readiness to defend – military preparedness to do battle
  • Preventative measures to avoid conflict – building trust and cooperation globally.

For those who address our national security from the perspective of readiness to defend, we are weak and vulnerable. Mission Readiness describes itself as a “nonpartisan national security organization of senior retired military leaders calling for smart investments in America’s children.” They released a report titled, Still To Fat To Fight, and share the following on their website:

Currently, 75 percent of 17- to 24-year olds in the U.S. cannot serve in the military, primarily because they are too poorly educated, too overweight, or have a serious criminal record.  A quarter of young Americans do not graduate on time from high school, a minimum requirement to be eligible for military service. Even among our nation’s high school graduates, nearly one in four seeking to enlist cannot join the Army because of low scores on the military’s basic exam for math, literacy, and problem-solving. 

Two young children running a race.

We can address physical and intellectual fitness by sharing and replicating outstanding models that are creating the desired results among ourselves. These solution models need to become common practice that is sustained – for youth nationwide. We have models for physical fitness, and we have models for nutrition that are comprehensive and well-conceived. Research on the effects of service learning have shown that student engagement in academics increases, providing the link with relevance our youth need. Ethical fitness becomes embedded in a curriculum that joins all youth in working with the non-profits in their community, engaging with their sister-city peers, and bringing environmental solutions to their communities. Accomplishing large scope common good becomes a consistent focus in their education.

Building humanitarian relations best begins among youth globally. Their collective altruistic qualities will head us in a better direction. As adults, we continue to drop the ball, we continue to find impasse instead of cooperation. Not so for our youth or our social entrepreneurs. It’s time to join youth with outstanding social entrepreneurs to create the outcomes that elude adults. It’s time for adults to yield and learn from these populations.

A painting of a young boy and girl holding hands walking away down a highway in a desert setting. Clouds in front of them have the continents outlined within.

Consider the impact of every school district adopting a sister city in a developing part of the world. The sister city component of the K-12 service initiative would provide our youth with a checklist of global projects created by global social entrepreneurs; it would create sustained relationships between youth in developed nations and youth in developing areas of the world – youth growing together in solution making. What would the outcome be a generation later when these youth come together to problem solve as adults?

National security is one of many issues that a K-12 service learning initiative would address. The initiative refracts with light as through a prism into many needful issues and areas of need. The initiative will bring us to another era – one of sustainable peace, progress, and prosperity.