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Can a good education make the people of a country the happiest in the world? Perhaps an unusual question yet the answer is "yes" according to a recent New York Times article in which Costa Rica was ranked number one based upon this criteria. While there were many possible explanations as to what values were used to measure happiness, but the one that clearly stood out was a major investment in education. Granted that Costa Rica abolished its army and used its resources for education. And while our country cannot do that because of our role in the world, there are many lessons to be learned from Costa Rica that we can follow.
In Costa Rica rising education levels have created many impressive results which range from more gender equity, preservation of the environment, bolstering economic output, a more stable economy, and becoming a major exporter of computer chips. Education brought about very significant improvement in health care with life expectancy increasing.
Our state has so much to learn from what Costa Rica has achieved. In fact Missouri ranks only 37th in per pupil costs for education nationally spending less than to $10,000 per pupil per year. 36 states are ahead of us in per pupil costs. Those states include Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Wyoming, Rhode Island and New Jersey with per pupil costs ranging from $10,000 plus to over $16,000 per year.
We cannot continue to let this happen. Our state must be willing to put the necessary resources into education so that our students can become well educated and productive members of our society; and, as a result, achieve real happiness measured by their education attainments in life. Indeed our future depends upon an excellent education for all of our children.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Susan Uchitelle is a consultant for the Voluntary Interdistrict Coordinating Council.