Sparking change

Charity needs to take the lead on social progress.

By Todd Cohen

[06.02.04] — America faces huge social problems, yet political leadership is missing in action.

Charity needs to lead the charge.

Frozen in the headlights, politicians pander to voters with tax cuts at the expense of vital human services.

Yet our future, as a new report on the South makes clear, depends on creating a vision about what we want our society to be, and taking the tough steps needed to build it.

Education is the linchpin. Without good schools that equip young people for higher education and good jobs, our future is grim.

Lawmakers intent on quick fixes to plug budget holes miss the big picture.

In North Carolina, our ongoing budget crisis gave Gov. Mike Easley an unprecedented chance to spell out what kind of state we should be, and create a business plan to get us there.

Instead, he has chased after band-aids.

The challenges facing North Carolina mirror those facing the South, which Chapel Hill think-tank MDC Inc. says must strengthen its public schools to thrive.

Foundations can spark innovation and the public-private partnerships needed to foster it.

Improving schools and tackling big social ills takes vision and teamwork, concepts foreign to politics and critical to effective philanthropy.

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