This week I had the opportunity to send off nine young people from Northern Virginia who will be attending our military service academies this fall. This impressive group represents some of the best and brightest our region’s outstanding high school seniors will graduate this month.
Given the changing nature of our national security needs, military engagements in the coming decades will require fewer boots on the ground, relying more heavily on advanced technological systems. The shifting demands will mean that our service members must master not only military strategy, but computer systems and engineering knowledge.
Our military is not the only entity growing more dependent on technology, the jobs of the 21st Century will depend more and more on science, math and technology.
All 2011 graduates pursuing a higher education will see curricula shift in concert with the demands of the job market. Over the next 10 years, most new jobs will require more than a high school diploma.
These changing needs means the U.S. must focus on investing in education. Our public schools play perhaps the most critical role in securing future success for the nation. Our young people no longer face competition just from their American peers, but from students as far away as China and India.
Those graduates immediately entering the workforce do so at a time when there is an increasing demand for high-skilled and technical jobs. These students must rely upon their foundation of knowledge built during their time in Northern Virginia public schools to navigate this changing environment.
While Northern Virginia is home to some of the best public schools in the nation, our schools represent the exception, not the rule compared with the rest of the country. Our public education system must anticipate the needs of the next generation. This involves a serious commitment to investing in math and science while emphasizing the creativity and innovation that permitted the U.S. to develop extraordinary advances like airplanes, the Internet, iPhones and Facebook. Every child in the United States must have the opportunity for a first-rate education.
As Congress faces tight budgets and the immediate concerns of a debt ceiling vote, we must keep an eye on the future needs of our nation. In order for the United States to remain competitive, whether in the market and the battlefield, we must invest in education.
As the group of service academy appointees reminded me, our young people hold great promise for the U.S. to remain the world’s economic, military, and moral superpower. I will continue working in Congress to give future generations the opportunities to fulfill their potential.
Rep. James Moran (D) is Virginia’s 8th Congressional District Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives.