But just imagine, if 100 years ago, in setting out as their task to build an education system, people said, well for an education system to be a real education system, it has to go from kindergarten to grade 12 and to be free to everybody of course, and there have to be scores of universities across the country for hundreds of thousands of students, and community colleges for hundreds of thousands of more and, well, forget it. It's hopeless. It can't be done. There's just no way. There's no point in even trying. It would bankrupt all of us. The same for health care 40 years ago, if people then could see what we have today.
I am not a perfectionist. I want to win. The key, I think, is to get the principles right. Then, with the $5 billion over five years, with a renewed commitment and the right focus, to make things better enough each year so that people can see for themselves just how much better it all can be. To get them excited, to hook them, to get them involved, to get them to take on some of the load as well. And all the time, it is important to approach the development of this system as an "of course." It will happen. It is a matter of when, not if. Go on the offensive. Put the other guy on the defensive. You have earned the "of course," so use it.
We also need to make what we are doing as irreversible as possible. There will hard moments, moments when it will be much easier to go back than to go ahead. We need to make going back as painful as possible. With each step we all take in these next five years, it will be harder to go back. More spaces, higher quality, higher expectations and ambitions, a bigger and growing public appetite, building the pressure on each level of government, to reinforce the commitment implicit in building a system. We need to paint ourselves into a corner because it's a corner we want to be in and need to be in.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Posted by David MacLean at 4:29 PM
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