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How qualified are teachers? Ask the same question about politicians
It’s always been curious to me that while there seems to be much concern expressed about how qualified teachers might be for their work, it appears that there is very little if any similar anxiety expressed about how qualified politicians might be for theirs. We afford politicians the right to make decisions in relation to the economy, education, the environment, transportation, etc. – all things that play an important role in determining the character and quality of our lives, and yet there are no preparatory standards or criteria attached to the establishment of a career in politics or in relation to someone being legitimately qualified for public office.
Those who teach our children, fix our teeth, service our plumbing, examine us when we are sick, fly airplanes, police our streets, care for us in hospitals, reside over our courts, wire our homes, design our buildings and bridges and so on, all have to complete requisite periods of formal education or training, pass exams, complete practicums or apprenticeships, and be certified by governing bodies before they can continue with their careers.
But nothing comparable to this applies when it comes to running for public office or running a government: no established standards or thresholds for qualification, no prescribed education or training, no tests to assess one’s understandings of the nature of the work, no skills training to ensure competence when in the job, no oversight by a responsible body concerned with determining if you are truly qualified to make decisions that will affect people’s lives or the health of the environment and the economy. Know nothing about economics, education, running a business, or environmental issues? Do we have the right job for you! Just bring a big smile, print-up some nice posters, master the arts of bafflegab and evasion, and SHAZZAM ! – you have a career in politics.
There are lots of reasons why those who might be most qualified to run our governments are not interested in political careers and why so many who are profoundly unqualified are, but it is a certainty that it would greatly advance the democratic process and improve our lives if we could find ways to attract many more of the former and significantly fewer of the latter to the field of politics.
Is that likely to happen? Not as long as we remain content to vote on the basis of how attractive we find the ribbon and wrapping paper rather than the substance (or lack thereof) of the contents of the packages.