david satcher

A large crowd was on hand during the Hobson City annual Black History Program where Dr David Satcher spoke. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Speaking over the weekend at a Black History Month event in Hobson City, Dr. David Satcher focused on the difference-maker when it comes to prosperity — education.

Satcher, an Anniston native and former U.S. surgeon general, said Saturday, “If we want healthier communities, we need more education, more income and better jobs.”

The way we see one leads to another and another. Increased wages and quality employment are an outgrowth of a top-notch education. There’s really no substitute for high-performing public schools. We in Alabama have witnessed what the alternative gives us. Bad schools lead to poorly trained workers, a depressed economy and slim chances at landing companies that depend on an educated workforce. Sure, the state has some prosperous areas with strong public schools, but the rest of the state’s prospects for landing 21st-century jobs are held back by weak schools.

“I was very fortunate that I had teachers who made up their minds to take their jobs seriously,” Satcher, a 1959 graduate of the segregated Calhoun County Training School, said on Saturday.

“We need our children to make up their minds that they’re going to be competitive, get better grades and make better communities,” he said. While the doctor was speaking in the context of African-American communities, we would suggest that his wisdom applies across the board.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” the late Nelson Mandela famously said. It was a point Satcher emphasized on Saturday.

We would add one of our favorite quotes about education. “The road to prosperity inevitably leads past the schoolhouse door,” William Winter, the former governor of Mississippi, said.

Our advice to state lawmakers who are working on next year’s Education Trust Fund is to devote some serious thoughts to the words of Satcher, Mandela and Winter. They put into context what’s at stake. Alabama’s future depends on what the Legislature and governor invest in our schools today.