Students should be taught, Newsom believes, to ask better questions and invent their way out of problems. And technology can be the enabler of this type of learning, he said. 

Newsome’s assessment of public education was surprising. He wearily opined that the public school system had structural problems that were bigger than the most optimistic budget could fix and we need to come up with more creative solutions than just coming up with more money.

While some politicians argue the world needs more STEM (scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians), Newsom argued that this acronym should really be STEAM, adding in the “A” for artists. 

“It is an economic imperative to invest in creativity,” Newsom explained, revealing that he never once cut funding for the arts in San Francisco schools during his time as mayor. Creativity gives California an edge on other states and other countries, he said. If the state continues to cut arts, it will only end up further behind. 

Considering that California’s economy is driven in large part by the tech industry in Silicon Valley, cutting education could have larger than anticipated impacts on the future viability of the states economy. Silicon Valley is dependent on college graduates, many of them from the UC system. By cutting budgets for higher- education, California is putting its own economy in peril. In addition, this industry depends on creative people to fuel its growth. 

Though his solution for fixing California was complicated, his message was simple. We are in a position where our attitudes will choose the future for us. If we keep an optimistic attitude and concentrate our energy on innovation and shaping the future, we can become the thriving nation that we once were.

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